Shootout with St. Petersburg Police leads to man's death

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - According to police, 'several' St. Petersburg police officers shot and killed a man late Thursday night in South St. Pete after the man fired at officers, striking at least two cruisers.

It all started when uniformed patrol officers in marked police cruisers were dispatched to a call of a "man with a gun" at the Hungry Baba restaurant, 1811 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street South.

Employees of the Hungry Baba called police after a white male described as "sweaty and nervous" had entered the business.  The employees later told officers the man, later identified as Jason Michael Kerr, was sweating so profusely that one of the employees gave him a towel to wipe himself dry.

The man then left the Hungry Baba business.  As he walked across the parking lot, the employees saw him waving a handgun around as he talked to some other individuals standing in the parking lot and called the police.

The employees watched as the man got into the driver's seat of a white Dodge Caravan and drove out of the parking lot.

St. Petersburg Police spokesperson Bill Proffitt said officers arrived on the scene at 11:12 p.m. and watched as the Caravan pulled out of the Hungry Baba parking lot and onto Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street South.

The Caravan then made a left turn to go westbound on 18th Avenue South.

Officers in marked police cruisers turned on their emergency lights to conduct a traffic stop, and Kerr, 31, pulled the Caravan into the Snax Food Store parking lot, 1755 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street South.

He spun the vehicle around in the parking lot and then stopped facing south, somewhat perpendicular to the marked police cruisers entering the Snax parking lot.

While seated in his vehicle, police said, Kerr began firing multiple rounds from a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun at the marked police cruisers.

Three of the bullets struck two marked police cruisers.

Several officers returned fire and struck Kerr, who died at the scene.

Kerr has several prior arrests in Pinellas County, including charges of criminal mischief, violation of probation, DUI, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, fleeing and eluding a LEO, trafficking in phenethylamines, possession of cocaine and domestic battery.

Officers found a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun inside of the vehicle, along with cocaine, cocaine paraphernalia and pills.  They also found cocaine on the driver.

Four officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure in situations where a shooting involves a death.

The officers involved include Matthew Laliberte, 28, sworn officer since December 2007, Scott Kirpan, 31, sworn officer since June 2007, Mark Kruzell, 30, sworn officer since December 2012, and Matthew Stringfellow, 27, sworn officer since November 2007.

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