Man killed in officer-involved shooting - FOX 13 News

Man killed in officer-involved shooting

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

St. Petersburg Police shot and killed a man early Saturday morning who they said pointed a rifle at them.

Officers first got a call of shots being fired at around 1:45 a.m. near Lealann Russell Melder Cooley's home on 40th Street North but didn't find anything.

Nearly two hours later police received a noise complaint in the same neighborhood.

When officers arrived they heard a gunshot coming from Cooley's home.

They found Cooley standing on his porch with a handgun. Investigators said he put the gun down but grabbed a rifle and aimed it at police.

"I saw the cops approach the house and just yell out, 'put it down! put it down!'" said Christopher Thomas, who lives two houses down the street. "They unloaded at least 15, 20 shots."

Authorities searched the home afterward and found several weapons and ammunition strewn about the house.

"We're really not sure what at this point exactly what was going on in his head," said Mike Puetz, a spokesperson for the St. Petersburg Police Department. "Apparently this man had apparently been firing shots in his backyard most of the day."

Puetz said Cooley had been making suicidal threats, acting strange and drinking heavily, causing his wife and daughter to leave; they weren't home when he was killed.

The family's landlord, Cliff Lockwood, found out what happened late Saturday morning.

"I didn't believe it at first," Lockwood said shortly after being told what happened. "I don't know what to do. There's nothing I can do until the police notify me. I'm at a loss."

Lockwood said the family had rented the house for nine years and it didn't seem as if anything was wrong.

"I saw them a month ago maybe and everything seemed fine," he said. "I'm glad they weren't there when it happened and I hope they're okay."

"They're a nice, sweet, little family," added Thomas, who's lived in that neighborhood for two years. "I just hope the daughter and the wife are okay. I feel bad for them. My heart goes out to them."

The six officers who fired at Cooley have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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