What started as an undercover drug operation turned deadly Wednesday night, deputies say.
One man was shot and killed, and a deputy was also injured. The sheriff's office has now released the name of the man killed, Robert Gary Jr.
Deputies say they shot him to death after he tried to rob an undercover agent and struggled with the deputy for a gun.
It all started when investigators got a tip. Several calls were coming in from residents of the Cinnamon Cove Apartment Complex apartments complaining about crack cocaine being sold in their complex. It's at 16th Street and 122nd Avenue, north of Tampa near Fletcher and Nebraska Avenues.
Deputies sent three undercover detectives to investigate. One posed as a buyer, and deputies say he tried to buy crack from Gary Jr.
A fight broke out between the two, deputies say, and both men ended up falling down a flight of stairs. Investigators say that's when the detective's gun came loose. There was a struggle for it, and then moments later he shot and killed Gary Jr.
"It's undetermined at this time who fired those actual shots during the confrontation," said Cpl. Donna Lusczynsai. "Our backup deputies moved in, saw the deputy fighting for his life and shot and killed the suspect."
Some in the neighborhood are saying this was racial targeting and are upset by the shooting.
"And he was a person who if you talked to him, he listened," said family member Dallas Gillyard. "He loved life. He loved his family. I could sit and talk to him at any time. He never talked back to me."
Investigators say all races lived in the neighborhood. Deputies were only there to investigate drugs, they say.
The deputy involved in the struggle was taken to Tampa General with non-life threatening injuries. He has been released.
Authorities are not releasing his name or the other names of the detectives involved in the undercover operation.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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