Florida K9 officer recovering after shooting

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April 29 2021 07:00 pm

A deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and a St. Petersburg police K9 are recovering after being shot by a suspect who ran from a traffic stop early Friday morning.

Detectives say the incident began at 1:50 a.m. when a Pinellas deputy pulled over a car for a traffic stop at 3rd Avenue South and 30th Street South. The driver, Elijah Johnson, 23, of St. Petersburg, stopped, but then fled the scene.

Shortly afterward, police say Johnson abandoned his car at 2nd Avenue South and 26th Street.  At that point, a St. Petersburg K9 officer and his dog to begin tracking the area. Detectives say Johnson shot K9 Titan, then fled from that scene.

A short time later, Johnson fired shots at PCSO Sergeant David Stang, who was in his vehicle at 3rd Avenue South and 27th Street. The shots were fired through the passenger side of the deputy’s cruiser.

“It appeared as though he was caught by surprise,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Sgt. Stang accelerated his cruiser away from the shooting scene where EMS responded and transported him to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg where his condition is stable. Stang was shot in the shoulder at least twice. “He lost a considerable amount of blood,” said Gualtieri.

Investigators say Stang is expected to be ok and did not suffer any life threatening injuries. 

Johnson was found dead with what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was found near 3rd Ave South and 26th Street.

Gualtieri said at this time, it appears no deputy or officer fired a weapon. 

Gualtieri said Johnson has a long criminal history and was recently released from prison. ”It was an original traffic stop that he escalated and turned into something, then he tried to kill a deputy. It’s a bad situation all around,” said Gualtieri. “Thank goodness that he’s alive. These are always the calls that you dread. It’s the worst case scenario.”

K9 Titan was shot in the foot or shoulder and underwent surgery. His condition is also stable, according to investigators.

St. Petersburg police and the PCSO’s Forensic Science Division will investigate the incident.

Sgt. Stang, 51, has been with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office since 2001. 

More photos of Sgt. Stang and K9 Titan are below.

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