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Sheriff: Shooter fired 14 times

More details emerge in Aug. 15 death of a sheriff's sergeant.

By REBECCA CATALANELLO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 6, 2007


TAMPA - Michael Allen Phillips might have shot off at least 14 rounds the night detectives say he ambushed and killed Sgt. Ronald Harrison, according to new details released Wednesday by the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.

Harrison, 55, died with two gunshot wounds early Aug. 15 shortly after setting up a DUI checkpoint in Brandon. His shooter, 24-year-old Phillips, was gunned down by sheriff's snipers three hours later after barricading himself and firing at surrounding deputies.

An investigation into the incident reveals that a second person saw the fatal encounter between Phillips and Harrison that night, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

And while only three bullet casings were recovered in Harrison's unmarked cruiser, investigators found 11 more in the street where Harrison died, in Phillips' vehicle and in and around the house where he was killed, Carter said.

All bullets match those from the stolen .45-caliber pistol detectives recovered from Phillips' home, 1707 Village Court in Brandon, Carter said.

Carter said two days after the incident, a new witness came forward to say she was at the scene, westbound on Lumsden Avenue facing Harrison and the suspect vehicle at Kings Avenue intersection.

The woman said she saw Phillips' vehicle pull up to the passenger's side of Harrison's squad car as he prepared to turn north on Kings. Harrison rolled down his passenger window. Then, the witness heard voices, followed by gunfire.

Harrison activated his lights, crashed into another witness and then rolled into a tree. The shooter drove away, turning left, the witness said.

"She was afraid," Carter said of the witness' failure to contact deputies right away about what she'd seen. She came forward after seeing news reports about Harrison's death. She is not related to either Harrison or Phillips, Carter said

The Sheriff's Office also has traced much of the $5,000 in stolen goods recovered in Phillips' home to burglaries in Volusia County. Among those items: stamp and coin collections, televisions, amplifiers, Xboxes, PlayStation games, speakers and jewelry.

Carter said the recovered items have helped authorities with several burglary investigations and could lead to additional people being charged in those robberies - none, though, directly linked to Harrison's shooting.

The Sheriff's Office is expected to release a detailed report on the Harrison shooting investigation soon, Carter said.

One component still under review, Carter said, is the actions of the SWAT team members who fatally shot Phillips when they fired into his house after he fired at them.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at 813 226-3383 or rcatalanello@sptimes.com.