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Police shoot teenager in arm

Published June 7, 2007


TAMPA - Police shot a suspect Wednesday morning after the man reached into his front pockets when they tried to arrest him.

Officer Shannon Murphy, 30, fired one shot, striking Rechi L. Butler, 18, in the arm. Butler was taken to Tampa General Hospital with injuries that weren't life-threatening. Murphy is on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

Butler had been accused of waving a gun in a woman's face and threatening to kill her, McElroy said.

"The officers knew he had a tendency to violent behavior, " McElroy said. "They were taking every precaution."

McElroy said Butler had 23 prior felony charges, including arrests for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

Police said they found marijuana in Butler's front pocket, which he may have been trying to discard when they approached him about 9 a.m. in the front yard of his home at 4210 E Louisiana Ave.

The accusation of aggravated assault with a firearm stems from a complaint filed May 25 by Michelle McPherson that Butler had pulled a gun and threatened her.

According to the police report, Butler and his friends began harassing McPherson after she tripped on her shoes while leaving her mother-in-law's house on E. Louisiana. McPherson yelled at the group, at which point Butler pulled a gun out of his pants pocket, swore at her and threatened to shoot her, the report said.

Butler's neighbors say he did not cause trouble in the neighborhood. Neighbors say they often saw him riding his moped around the block or sitting with his girlfriend on his front porch.

"He seemed like an average kid to me, " said Essye Brown, who identified herself as a friend of his older sister's.

Duane Walker, 24, said he understood that police need to protect themselves but was sorry to see Butler get in trouble.

Walker, who has a history of arrests on drug charges, said he would try to give Butler advice on how to stay out of trouble. His prior advice, he said, didn't take. "I think it will this time though."

Sarah Mishkin can be reached at or 813 225 3110.

[Last modified June 7, 2007, 01:24:45]

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