ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A St. Petersburg man was killed after pointing a gun at officers who were doing a welfare check at his apartment Sunday, officials said.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the incident began as a hit-and-run that happened at around 3:30 a.m. in the area of 13th Avenue North and 50th Street. The crash involved an unattended vehicle that was hit by another vehicle.
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Gualtieri said St. Petersburg police officers located a bumper from the suspect vehicle that had a tag on it registered to a woman named Mary Spandoudis, leading them to an apartment complex on 58th Street North.
Officers went to the woman’s apartment to ask if the vehicle they were looking for was stolen, but they got no answer.
They later returned but still got no answer, so they looked through a window and noticed a wheelchair and crutches inside. They also noticed mail stacked outside the apartment.
Gualtieri said the officers called Mary Spandoudis and learned she actually lived in a nursing home. She told them her son Gus Spandoudis, 63, lived in the apartment instead.
Mary Spandoudis told officers her son was disabled and that she last spoke to him on Thanksgiving.
“She was concerned because nobody had had any contact with him,” Gualtieri said.
The sheriff said she asked officers to check on her son out of concern for his well-being so two officers went back to the apartment to conduct a welfare check.
The officers knocked on the door again but got no response. They also got a maintenance person who tried to enter the room with a key, but they still could not get inside.
Gualtieri said St. Petersburg firefighters arrived and helped officers make a forced entry.
When they first entered, they did not see anyone until they looked into a bedroom, seeing Gus Spandoudis in a chair.
“Gus Spandoudis was sitting there, made a comment to the officers that he wanted to commit suicide,” Gualtieri said. “The officers knew there were other people in the apartment because they could see feet and legs in an adjacent bedroom so there were multiple people in multiple bedrooms, and there were two officers.”
The sheriff said Officer Jace Morrow kept an eye on Gus Spandoudis and another man, Dominic Messina, while Officer James DeMaria dealt with a third man, Michael Redmond.
Unbeknownst to Morrow, Gus Spandoudis had a handgun that he then pointed at the police officer.
“He refused to drop the gun and raised it again at Officer Morrow,” Gualtieri said. “Officer Morrow fired, and Spandoudis is deceased.”
Gualtieri said the other two men are being considered witnesses at this time. The sheriff did not know if they were involved in any criminal activity unless one of them was driving the vehicle in the original hit-and-run.
The Pinellas County Use of Deadly Force Task Force and the State Attorney’s Office are investigating the shooting. The hit-and-run investigation is being conducted separately.