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    Suspect: Shots fired by accident

    He says the gun went off when he hit a table. But police say evidence contradicts his statement.

    [Times photo: Jill Sagers]
    Pinellas sheriff's detectives Michael Bailey, left, and Michael Holbrook lead Scott Lang to their car Thursday after he arrived at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport from Bulloch County, Georgia, where he was captured last week.


    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 1, 2001

    LARGO -- Standing in shackles and flanked by detectives, murder suspect Scott Lang started talking.

    In an exclusive, 15-minute interview Thursday, Lang told the St. Petersburg Times that the May 22 shooting that left Richard Hosking dead was an accident.

    "There's nothing I want to say I'm sorry for," said the 17-year-old, wearing an orange jumpsuit and royal blue deck shoes. "Everything just happened."

    Moments after being flown in from rural Georgia, where he was captured a week ago, Lang spoke as he was being fingerprinted.

    Lang said he sneaked into Hosking's Clearwater-area home because he knew the 55-year-old fellow church member kept a gun in his safe.

    "I went there to get the gun because I wanted to commit suicide," he said. "The night before, my brother told me he didn't want to have anything to do with me, and I thought I had lost everything.

    "I think I did."

    Lang said he was not surprised when Hosking came home for lunch. Hosking was the assistant director of the Pasco County Health Department, a 35-mile drive from his home, but was attending a seminar in Clearwater that day.

    "I knew he wasn't at work and I saw his briefcase in the house," Lang said.

    After Hosking came in, Lang said the two talked.

    "He and I talked a lot about why I was there and what I was doing," he said. "I told him I was going to kill myself and he said that wasn't the answer."

    Without explaining why, Lang said Hosking then ran for the front door and Lang headed for the back door.

    "I didn't shoot him," Lang said. "I banged into the table and the gun went off."

    As he told the story Thursday, the two detectives escorting Lang rolled their eyes.

    Pinellas sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Greg Tita said Lang told detectives the same story after his arrest in Statesboro, Ga.

    "He's held to that story from the first contact our detectives . . . had with him in Statesboro," Tita said.

    But the evidence left at the Hosking house doesn't match Lang's account, Tita said.

    "That was a story that didn't really hold too much water with the things at the house," he said.

    He added that the detectives investigating Hosking's death "don't believe a word of it."

    First, Tita said, is the fact that Lang commited more crimes, including the assault of Hosking's daughter, before bolting across North Florida to Georgia.

    "If in fact what he were telling us were truthful, then he didn't have to carry on with other crimes he committed," Tita said.

    The other thing investigators find hard to believe is that Lang accidentally shot the gun, which was fired twice.

    "You don't have an accidental shooting and have two rounds go off," Tita said. "That means he shot twice. You don't accidentally shoot a gun twice. Once, maybe, but not twice."

    Tita said Hosking was hit once in the upper torso. The other bullet missed and later was found near Hosking's body, though Tita would not say specifically where.

    "The scientific evidence at the house and the facts that support the evidence at the house don't support an accidental shooting theory," Tita said.

    Near the end of his interview, in an apparent contradiction with an earlier statement, Lang said he was trying to put the gun down when it fired.

    Asked if he would have done anything differently, he said: "I would point the gun in a different direction when I put it down on the table."

    After the shot, Lang said he "didn't really think about anything. I just jumped down under the table."

    But he didn't leave. He waited until Hosking's teenage daughter -- and a close friend of Lang's -- got home from school. Lang said that time period was only five to 10 minutes.

    "Where was I going to go?" he asked. "It wasn't that long from when the gun went off until (the girl) got home."

    Lang said he didn't want the girl to see her father dead, so he covered him with a sleeping bag.

    "I didn't want (her) to come home and see her dad there," he said.

    And when she arrived, Lang said, they sat together. Investigators say the girl initially didn't know her father's body was under the sleeping bag.

    "We didn't really talk," Lang said. "We kind of sat there for an hour."

    Investigators say Lang assaulted the girl after she came home. When asked about that Thursday, Lang said: "No comment."

    About an hour after the girl came home, her mother came home. Lang talked with them, and sheriff's officials say they learned Hosking's body was under the sleeping bag before he left in Hosking's silver Honda.

    Sheriff's officials said Lang then went north, first to Gainesville, then to Jacksonville, Tallahassee and finally to Statesboro, Ga., where he once lived.

    As he trekked north, investigators tracked him by e-mails he was sending, including one to his brother in which he intentionally misled investigators by saying he was in Miami.

    Lang admitted on Thursday that he sent the message from a public library in either Jacksonville or Tallahassee, "to give myself time to think and be alone."

    While on the run, Lang said he didn't contact anyone, except via e-mail. But in Statesboro, he saw his old pastor.

    "I talked to my old pastor in Georgia for about five minutes," he said. "I just happened to pull in the church parking lot and he was there shooting golf."

    Though Lang initially said Thursday that there was nothing he felt sorry about, he later said:

    "I'm sorry everything happened. I'm sorry Richard Hosking is not around. I'm sorry his kids don't have their dad and I'm sorry the church doesn't have a leader and a friend anymore. I can't really do anything to bring Richard back.

    "I don't seem to be scared," he said.

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