Suspect armed with AR-15 shot, killed by Pinellas deputy

- A man was killed during a traffic stop when he got out of the vehicle with an AR-15 rifle, according to deputies.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is investigating the deputy-involved shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Witchard around 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

Detectives said Witchard was the passenger in a 1998 Ford Windstar van deputies tried to pull over on 18th Avenue S. for driving recklessly. The driver didn't stop and tried to take off, but hit a St. Petersburg police officer's patrol car in the process. 

A sheriff's office helicopter tracked the van to the area of 21st Avenue S. and and 22nd Street S. That's when Whitchard got out and revealed the semi-automatic rifle, deputies said. 

According to Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Witchard turned the rifle towards deputies. That's when a deputy opened fire.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Gualtieri said the driver of the vehicle, 31-year-old Cory Williams was taken into custody nearby.

Inside the van, detectives said they found $4,000 and a small amount of marijuana. They also discovered the AR-15 was loaded and the safety was off. 

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