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Dade City man fatally shot

Authorities were searching for two suspects in a mid-size car. The 23-year-old victim had been in legal trouble before.

By MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 26, 2001


TRILACOOCHEE -- Pasco authorities twice suspected Ronnie Barber of shooting at people since 1996. Early Sunday morning, someone shot Barber and killed him.

Barber, 23, of 37639 W Howard Ave. in Dade City was shot in the torso outside Rumors nightclub on U.S. 301 in Trilacoochee just after midnight, Pasco County sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said.

Powers said the circumstances of the shooting were under investigation Sunday, but that authorities were looking for two suspects in a mid-size car. Powers gave little identifying information about the suspects.

Powers said there apparently were several hundred people in the parking lot of Rumors when the shooting happened. He said deputies were trying to interview witnesses to find out what happened.

Barber was taken from the club to Dade City Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 1 a.m., Powers said.

Barber was well-known to Pasco's law enforcement officers.

According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, Barber was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm in February 1996. Those charges were dismissed in September 1996.

In the meantime, Barber was charged with and later convicted of possessing marijuana and cocaine in April 1996.

Then, in May 1996, he was charged with attempted second-degree murder when Dade City police suspected him of firing into a house and wounding two teens. Prosecutors later dropped those charges because the teens couldn't see who fired at them.

In November 1996, Barber was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, but those charges were dropped in December 1996.

Then, in September 1997, Pasco County sheriff's deputies arrested Barber for aggravated battery and firing a weapon in public. The outcome of those charges was unknown Sunday.

Dade City police arrested Barber that same month for grand theft and trafficking cocaine. FDLE records show those charges being turned over to another agency, and no outcome was listed.

According to state prison records, Barber went to prison twice, most recently in June 1998 for burglary, trafficking cocaine and firing a gun from a vehicle. Records show he was released in June.

In October, Dade City police arrested him for marijuana possession.

Pasco County sheriff's deputies had not made an arrest Sunday night.

- Staff writer Matthew Waite can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is waite@sptimes.com.

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