Officer continues to recover after deadly South St. Pete shooting

The sheriff of Pinellas County said the officer who was shot in south St. Pete is lucky to be alive.

The St. Petersburg officer, who has not been identified, underwent surgery Wednesday night after he was shot in the groin at nearly point-blank range, but he is expected to be OK, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

The suspect, 20-year-old Dominique Harris, was also shot and later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The sheriff said it appears the officer-involved shooting was justified, but detectives with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Use of Deadly Force Investigative Task Force will investigate the officer-involved shooting, as a matter of procedure.

After an initial review of the scene and witness statements, Gualtieri provided the following timeline:

Officers with the St. Petersburg Police Department Special Investigation Unit were trying to locate Harris, who was wanted for child abuse related to an incident in October where he allegedly body-slammed a 15-year-old at a basketball court. Harris was also a suspect in a murder investigation.

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On Wednesday, a joint task force received a tip of Harris' location.

Plain-clothes officers said they spotted Harris in a vehicle parked at the Food Max convenience store, located at 1400 18th Avenue South. Harris' brother was inside the food store when the officers at the scene called for uniformed officers to respond.

Booking image for Dominique Harris from an Oct. 2019 arrest

The officer in a marked patrol car arrived and asked Harris for his ID. After confirming Harris was the suspect they were looking for, Harris refused commands from officers to get out of his vehicle, but instead rolling up his window and trying to flee.

After hitting marked and unmarked police vehicles, as well as a civilian vehicle, Harris started firing a handgun out of the window of his vehicle, Gualtieri said.

Four shell casings were found inside Harris's vehicle, Gualtieri said. One of those shots hit a detective in the groin area.

Officers returned fire, striking Harris. Gualtieri said at least 38 shots were fired, by five or six officers, toward Harris by officers. 

Harris was treated by paramedics but later died at the hospital, Gualtieri said.

Another officer was injured during the incident but was not hit by gunfire.

A man inside Food Max captured cell phone video as a barrage of shots were fired.

Gualtieri said detectives recovered a handgun and at least one spent shell casing from inside Harris' vehicle. 

The officer who was shot requested that his family be notified before his name is released to the public.