A limo driver opened fire in apparent self-defense as a rolling gunfight involving three vehicles took place Tuesday night in the streets of St. Petersburg, police say. At least four people were injured.
Investigators spent much of the day Wednesday trying to piece together the details, and they believe it all started around 9 p.m. when a rented limo picked up eight passengers in the area of 6th Street S and 29th Street S.
The limo clients headed to the 'Scene' nightclub downtown and then later to a convenience store at 5 Avenue S and 34th Street. Not long after that, the limo driver said, a black Chrysler 300 and a silver Kia pulled alongside and tried to force the limo to stop.
That's when someone in the Chrysler opened fire at the limo, wounding two passengers. The limo driver, who had a concealed weapons permit, pulled out his own gun and returned fire as he sped away from the area.
He eventually spotted several police officers who were investigating an unrelated shooting. Police found the black Chrysler, later determined to have been stolen, in the 700 block of 28th Street S. Inside was a lone, wounded occupant, later identified as Anzio Dale.
Dale, 27, has a criminal record that includes auto theft, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and robbery. He was hospitalized in critical condition.
A handgun was found in the car and detectives believe that there was a least one additional person in the car at the time of the shooting. There was no sign of that person or people, and no sign of the Kia, however.
The two victims in the limo suffered non-life-threatening injuries. A third victim, who was dropped off at All Children's Hospital, told police he was a friend of the limo passengers and had been riding in a car behind the limo when he was struck by gunfire. He was also expected to recover.
Investigators believe the shooting was an attempted robbery. They believe the limo occupants may have been flashing large amounts of cash at the convenience store, catching the attention of the would-be robbers in the Chrysler and Kia.
The limo driver, who was not named by police, will probably not face any charges.
"Part of what every chaffer does is security because you are in a higher profile vehicle and you are somewhat a target in bad areas," said Ken Lucci of Ambassador Limousine.
But is that really the job of a chauffeur?
Lucci says never expect your limo driver to be packing a weapon.
"We don't advocate carrying concealed weapons. If we have a client in a security scenario we have a trained security officer in a second chair. The problem you have is your are depending on your chaffer to be your security agent is his primary responsibility into move the guests and vehicle out of harm's way," he said.
In other words, a driver will drive away. After all, most limo passengers are corporate clients, high-profile celebrities or groups who booked
The vehicle for a night on the town.
"Your primary responsibility is to make sure your guests are safe, in traffic, driving," Lucci said.
Knowing the surroundings is key to staying safe -- and calculating an escape plan to avoid danger.
Maneuvering a large vehicle, filled with up to 18 people, is tricky. That's the size of a classroom. The job requires a commercial drivers license, not a concealed weapon. But the driver of this limo happened to have one, and made the decision to fire.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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