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    Man in hospital after his leg is shot

    Police are still seeking evidence in the shooting. The man says a stranger in a big red car shot him twice in the thigh near a Tarpon Springs grocery.

    By KATHERINE GAZELLA

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2001


    TARPON SPRINGS -- A Holiday man said he was shot in the leg by a stranger in a big red car Tuesday night, but he couldn't describe the shooter, and officers found no evidence of a shooting at the scene, police said Wednesday.

    Juston J. Kerns, 18, told police he was shot about 10 p.m. Tuesday as he walked to the Kash n' Karry in the Anclote Corners Plaza on Alt. U.S. 19 to buy a magazine.

    On Oakmont Avenue, a dark road behind the store, an older four-door car pulled up beside him and someone shot him twice in the upper left thigh, he told police.

    He said he blacked out for a while, then got up and walked around to the front of the store. There, he said, he saw some friends parked in the fire lane. Instead of taking him to the hospital or using a nearby telephone to call 911, police said, the friends took him to his uncle's house on Darlington Road in Holiday.

    "I didn't know what to do," Kerns said from his room at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. "My uncle has been shot once before."

    His uncle told him to go to the hospital. A friend later took him to Helen Ellis in Tarpon Springs, where someone called police about 11:30 p.m.

    Police are treating the case as an attempted murder, but Officer Clyde Thornton said in a report that officers could not find any bullet casings or other evidence of a shooting at the scene.

    Officers also took one of Kerns' shoes to the scene but were unable to find comparable footprints in the area where Kerns said he walked, Thornton's report said.

    In addition, police said Kerns couldn't describe the occupants of the car.

    Kerns was treated at the emergency room and admitted to the hospital. His injuries were not considered life-threatening, and he was in stable condition Wednesday.

    Kerns, who is unemployed, said he did not know why officers couldn't find evidence of the shooting. He also said he did not know who would shoot at him.

    "I have no enemies," he said.

    - Staff writer Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4182.

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