Manatee investigators say robbery, shooting suspect killed himself

Manatee investigators say robbery, shooting suspect killed himself

jdeleon@bradenton.comApril 16, 2014 

MANATEE -- Investigators have determined the bank robbery suspect who shot a sheriff's office lieutenant later killed himself during a shootout with deputies Monday, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Ross Chrisman, 24, of Sarasota, was found dead inside his truck Monday in the 5100 block of 33rd Street East in Bradenton after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement, according to a news release.

Lt. Bob Mealy was released from the hospital later in the day after being treated for a gunshot wound to the arm.

"He is doing well," Manatee County spokesman Dave Bristow said Tuesday.

Preliminary autopsy results revealed the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the sheriff's office.

Money found in the truck has not yet been connected to the bank robbery, investigators said.

Investigators also found Chrisman's deceased dog inside the truck. They believe Chrisman shot the dog before turning the gun on himself.

Chrisman is believed to have entered the Florida Bank at 3704 84th Ave. Circle near University Parkway about 11:25 a.m. Witnesses say he was armed with a handgun and demanded money.

Chrisman then reportedly fled the bank in a white pick-up truck, which was spotted by Mealy heading north on 15th Street East, before turning around and heading south on U.S. 301.

Stop sticks were used twice in failed attempts to stop the vehicle by puncturing its tires.

When the truck did stop in the 5100 block of 33rd Street East and deputies approached, Chrisman shot Mealy, according to the sheriff's office.

Deputies and Chrisman exchanged gunfire, before Chrisman killed himself, according to the sheriff's office.

Mealy was not available for comment Tuesday. The sheriff's office indicated he will be out at least a week or two for recovery.

The sheriff's office also started a routine internal affairs investigation to determine if deputies were justified in exchanging fire with Chrisman.

"What we have so far: They were totally justified," Bristow said. "And we don't expect that to change."

Four deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome.

Chrisman was known to law enforcement in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Most recently in Manatee County, Chrisman was arrested Sept. 13 on an arrest warrant for 23 charges, including 16 counts of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, five charges of fraudulent use of a credit card and one charge of driving on a suspended driver's license.

He was released from custody Nov. 19 after his bond was reduced to $115,000.

On Monday afternoon, the same day as the shootout, Chrisman was scheduled to appear at a court hearing for an April 28 trial where he was facing charges of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of narcotics equipment, resisting arrest with violence and unarmed burglary of an unoccupied structure.

Prior convictions in Manatee and Sarasota counties include petty theft, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, resisting arrest, possession of narcotics equipment, operating a motorcycle without a license, resisting arrest with violence and vehicle grand theft.

In court records, Chrisman's mailing address was listed as 3372 Sheffield Circle in Sarasota inside Village Green, a deed-restricted neighborhood. No one answered the door of the home Tuesday afternoon.

One man, who lives on the same street and asked to remain anonymous, said the shootout didn't surprise him. He said motorcycles were coming in and out of the home, and there was a problem with car break-ins a while ago in connection with people from the home.

"They're no good. Let me just put it like that," he said.

Amaris Castillo contributed to this report.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.

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