Two Palmetto police officers were involved in the fatal shooting of a suspect early Monday, officials confirmed.
Anthony Robinson, 32, died at Blake Medical Center after an exchange of gunfire with two Palmetto police officers, according to Police Chief Scott Tyler.
The officers involved, Angel Uruchima, a five-year veteran, and Madison Peters, a five-month veteran, have been placed on paid administrative leave.
At about 1:30 a.m. Monday, police were called to the 1800 block of Fifth Avenue West after Robinson’s father called 911 to report that his son had just fired multiple shots outside his home. Within a couple minutes of the call, police officers spotted Robinson leaving the area and attempted to pull him over.
When Robinson refused to stop, Tyler said, a pursuit ensued. Robinson lost control of his vehicle and crashed at the intersection of Bayshore Road and Eighth Avenue West.
Robinson ran into the Memphis Cemetery, and when Uruchima and Peters followed him, an exchange of gunfire followed during which Robinson was shot.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Robinson died at the hospital,” Tyler said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is leading the investigation in the officer-involved shooting, per the department’s agreement with Palmetto police to handle all officer-involved shootings. The department also will conduct its own internal investigation at the same time, Tyler said.
Tyler said it is his understanding that Robinson shot at the officers, but he cannot confirm that yet, he said.
“I am thankful that my officers are OK and heartbroken for the family of this individual,” Tyler said. “Police work sometimes is violent. It’s been many, many years since a Palmetto police officer has been involved in any type of shooting.”
The department’s last officer-involved shooting was in 1981, Tyler added.
“Our officers make a lot of arrests every year, and they do it with relatively very little use of force,” he said.
As a police chief in the current political climate, Tyler said that for months he had hoped his officers would never find themselves in this situation.
“I just hope the community is patient and allows the impartial investigation to take place before we jump to conclusions,” Tyler said. “It’s easy to say that the police overreacted, but we are also dealing with a violent crime that had just occurred and this is the individual who perpetuated it.”
Robinson had a criminal history that included convictions for sale of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance and felony battery.
Evelyn Randall, who lives across from the Old Memphis Cemetery near where the shooting took place, said she heard such loud booms around 2 a.m. that her husband yelled, “Get down!”
The couple went down to the ground in their home in the 100 block of 25th Street West, Palmetto, in the Memphis neighborhood.
“We have our little scuffles in this neighborhood, but nothing like this,” Randall said.
Bullet holes apparent in Robinson family home
Miles away, in the quiet neighborhood near the Palmetto Youth Center where the Robinsons live on Fifth Avenue West, the well-kept house where the incident began had numerous visible bullet holes.
A person who came to the door of the house stuck a hand beneath a drape on the door and waved it in a “please go away” motion adding a verbal, “We do not wish to talk.”
Neighbors sitting out on their screened-in porches also politely declined to be interviewed.
But one neighbor said that he knew both the deceased man and his father very well, and found them to be “very nice people.”