Suspect shot dead by officer in St. Petersburg after threatening residents, cops with ax

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A suspect accused of threatening people with an ax in downtown St. Petersburg was shot and killed by an officer Monday night, according to police.

Police responded to a call of an armed man threatening and chasing people with an ax in the area of Central Avenue and 4th Street at around 6:45 p.m.  The caller told police the man was acting very agitated and was yelling at a handful of people. 

"First thing the officer saw was the group coming around the corner, obviously in a panic," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.

Two officers arrived and ordered Kenneth Sprankle, 27, to drop his weapon. But according to police, instead of dropping the ax, he ran toward one of the officers, yelling unintelligible statements.

"The man kept advancing on him.  (He) got within about 7 feet of him when the officer discharged his weapon," said Puetz. 

Multiple shots were fired that could be heard from The Princess Martha senior living facility across the street. 
"We heard what we assumed to be three shots fired," said staffer Alysha Parker. "I locked down the building, notified our residents, and kept everyone inside."
Sprankle was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. No one else was injured. 

According to police, the man had been seen with the ax earlier in the day "acting aggressive" near Williams Park. However, there were no reports of this made to 911. 

Detectives are still investigating how the suspect obtained the ax. He is is believed to have been homeless with a documented history of mental health and substance abuse issues. 

The officer involved has been put on administrative leave while the case is investigated by the department's Investigative Services Bureau, Internal Affairs Unit, and the Pinellas/Pasco State Attorney's Office. 

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