TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A 39-year-old gang member and the primary suspect of a 2009 murder was killed Tuesday during an officer-involved shooting at a Riverview apartment complex, according to authorities.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said Don Robert Astor was a “true and real bad guy” and one of “the most heinous criminals that you can conceive in your mind.”
Members of the U.S. Marshals Task Force were surveilling the 39-year-old outside the Magnolia Park Apartments when they spotted him entering a blue Acura vehicle. Authorities quickly conducted a “tactical traffic stop” to trap the vehicle on the complex’s quiet driveway.
Chronister said a tactical traffic stop is “When we box in an individual to make sure there is no pursuit. It is an attempt to get a peaceful resolution and affect an arrest.”
Seeing the ambush, Chronsiter said the driver of the Acura, who was later identified as Astor’s son, rammed into a Polk County Sheriff’s cruiser in an attempt to get away.
The Polk County sheriff’s deputy ran to the Acura’s driver’s side as two Tampa police officers took a tactical position on the vehicle’s passenger side.
“Our bad guy decides that once again, he has no regard for human life, and he shoots out the window trying to strike the Polk sheriff’s deputy,” Chronister said.
All three law enforcement officers surrounding the vehicle opened fire, killing Astor. No officers were injured in the exchange.
Authorities noted Astor had a history of aggravated assault, rape, robbery, possession of a firearm, failure to register as a sex offender, and was even a primary suspect in a homicide out of New York in 2009.
“Our commitment to protect this community runs deep,” Chronister added. “Nothing will ever stop us from doing whatever it takes to keep the citizens we serve safe.”
Tampa Police Cheif Lee Bercaw said both his officers have over 20 years of experience with the department and have been on the Marshals task force for “some time.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will now investigate the shooting, as is standard procedure.
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