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Teen captured after Pasco shootings

Incidents in Port Richey and New Port Richey lead deputies to a search and early-morning chase in Clearwater.

By JONATHAN ABEL
Published June 5, 2007


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CLEARWATER - The dog caught up to Vito Cito Jr. beneath a portable classroom in Clearwater and bit him hard.

It was 3:45 a.m. Monday, and the 17-year-old Cito had been tracked down, police said, after two shootings in Pasco County on Sunday.

At 4:15 p.m. Sunday in Port Richey, police said, Cito fired a gun out of the sunroof of a car, wounding two men outside a Checkers restaurant.

Christopher Baun, 37, was hit in the neck and flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where he was in fair condition. David Thomlinson, 34, was taken to a local hospital with an arm wound. He was in stable condition.

Both men live at the Sunshine Mobile Home Park at 8626 Leo Kidd Ave., Port Richey.

Port Richey police Lt. David Brown said the cause of the shooting was unclear.

Cito also is suspected of shooting at two teens in New Port Richey. The Pasco Sheriff's Office reported that at 7:50 p.m. Sunday, Cito got into a fight with the boys, 15 and 16, in the Summer Lakes area. One of the boys told investigators Cito fired two shots at him, missing both times.

It wasn't until early Monday morning that Cito was captured. Here's how it unfolded, according to authorities:

About 3 a.m. Monday, the Pinellas Sheriff's Office learned Cito was spending the night in Clearwater. Deputies went to the house where he was supposed to be, but couldn't find him.

Someone spotted Cito driving a green Jeep Cherokee. He had a male passenger - another teen.

When deputies followed them, Cito sped away, wending across the city and even blowing past Clearwater police headquarters.

At Bay Avenue and Turner Street, Cito crashed into a tree. The two teens ran away.

Clearwater police and Pinellas County sheriff's dogs tracked down the pair at South Ward Elementary School, where Cito was hiding under a portable classroom. A handgun was found nearby, authorities said. The teen with him was detained and then released.

Cito, whose address was listed as 1000 Chester Drive in Clearwater, was treated for a bite wound and taken to the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center.

Brown said Cito would be charged with attempted murder in the shooting at Checkers. The Pasco Sheriff's Office charged him with aggravated assault and discharging a firearm in public in connection with the second shooting.

Cito's previous arrests include charges of possessing a weapon on school grounds, burglary and vehicle theft. He was adjudicated as a delinquent in those cases.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or 727 445-4157.

[Last modified June 5, 2007, 00:18:28]


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