CLEARWATER, Fla. - A Clearwater Police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, after investigators say he was forced to shoot a man to death.
Police say two officers were patrolling an area near the Palmetto Park Apartments around 1 pm Tuesday, when they saw a man who fit the description of a wanted suspect.
When they went to question the man, later identified as 19-year-old Julius Richard Larrance, they say he took off running through the apartment complex.
Elizabeth Watts, the City of Clearwater's Public Safety Officer said, "At some point he pulled out a handgun and shot several times at the officers. They returned fire. (Officer Karl Wassamer) returned fire, striking the suspect. He went into an apartment, barricaded himself."
That's when officers went inside and reportedly found Larrance laying on the ground, with a gun by his hand. Paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene moments later.
Luis Reyna was playing baseball across the street when he heard the gunfire.
Reyna said, "Both my coaches, they're hitting ground balls and as soon as they pick up a ball. All you hear is gunshots. Just a few of them like bang bang bang! Like six of them and then all you hear is police sirens and we all just ran."
Larrance had an active warrant for a hit and run. He was also wanted for questioning in connection with a lewd and lascivious act in Clearwater as well as a double homicide in Tampa.
Officer Wassamer, 46, sustained a minor injury to his foot, it appears to be a bullet fragment. He is okay and will be treated and released.
The second officer, Lauren Josey, 25, has been named a witness in the case.
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