Suspected gunman gassed out of house after standoff

Deputies evacuated nearby homes

LEALMAN - When Selena McNarri heard the hissing sounds coming from a house just down the street, the Lealman resident knew exactly what was happening: Tear gas.

"You can just tell by 'shh-shh' sound.  I know.  I've heard it before," McNarri said.  She was right.  A SWAT team had just fired canisters into the bathroom and bedroom windows of a duplex home at 4480 40th St. N., forcing out the suspect.

"We had a standoff in this neighborhood already," she said, referring to an incident last year.

This time, it was Andrew Giannisis, 32, of Pinellas Park who barricaded himself inside the house after eluding police.  Investigators said Giannisis was pulled over by St. Petersburg police for a traffic violation around midnight Wednesday, but pointed a gun at the officer.  He drove away from the scene, and was tracked to the Lealman house a short time later.

McNarri said while it was frustrating to have her neighborhood shut down, she would rather officers use tear gas than deadly force.

"I feel sorry for them.  Everybody makes mistakes, you know? I just hope they get out alive," McNarri said.

Ashley Warrington was not as sympathetic.  She was ordered out of her house early in the morning, and wasn't allowed to return for over 12 hours.

"I think it's very frustrating.  I'm stressed out.  My kid's fussy and it's just not a happy experience," Warrington said.  

While she was waiting in her car, her boyfriend was inside another house, unable to leave.  

"He saw a little robot crossing the road, and the SWAT team going up to the door," Warrington said.

Pinellas County sheriff's investigators said they brought in their mobile command unit and armored personnel carrier to the scene, and negotiators tried to convince Giannisis to surrender peacefully.  Shortly after dark, the SWAT team fired the tear gas into the house.

"He was jerking us around is the bottom line," said Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieiri.

"We had to figure out a way to resolve this in a successful way, which means none of our people get hurt," Gualtieri said.

Giannisis was arrested and charged with eluding police and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.  He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail.

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