Crime

U.S. Marshals join search for Tampa standoff suspect

TAMPA -- The search continued overnight for the man police say forced a standoff with them around his Tampa home.

Billy Lewis, 34, rammed his girlfriend's car at around 7 a.m. Tuesday during a domestic dispute, officials said. Lewis then rushed to his home, where police say it appeared as though he barricaded himself inside with his 10-year-old son and a gun.

After a four-hour standoff, the SWAT team discovered the house was empty. The boy was found safe, playing video games at a friend's home down the street, and Lewis was nowhere to be found.

Now, Tampa police say the U.S. Marshal's Office has joined in the search for Lewis. It's unclear if this means police believe he may have left the state, or if they just needed extra resources to find him.

Police say Lewis was armed for the short time he was inside his home on 26th Avenue, but when he took off, he left his gun behind.

Since then, Lewis has basically disappeared. There has been no trace of where he may be or where he is heading. He could be hiding somewhere locally, or perhaps he is already out of town or even out of state, police say.

As the standoff took place, Lewis' mom, Gina, said she didn't believe her son was hiding in the home, and the last time they talked, Lewis made it clear that he was scared and was possibly trying to hide.

“I knew the boy was out of the house, and he told me to call (the girlfriend) back and see if she is going to have me locked up," she said. "And then he said, 'Mom,' I was talking to him, and he says, 'Mom, hang up because I am hiding,' and he turned his phone off because he knew I was going to call him back and he didn’t want the phone to ring so nobody could hear.”

Lewis also made comments that he did not want to go back to prison. He served a five-year sentence on drug charges and was released in 2010.

Police say Lewis was recently having some problems with his girlfriend. Lewis' family said his girlfriend was trying to monitor his cellphone and following him around town, which may be why he rammed her car.

Police are asking that anyone with information about Lewis' whereabouts contact them.

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