TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa police arrested a man accused of shooting at a homeless family while they slept in their car on Wednesday, sending a pregnant mother to the hospital.
According to a release from the Tampa Police Department, detectives identified Christopher Stamat Jr., 21, as the owner of a black BMW reportedly caught on camera ‘canvassing’ the area of N. Oregon Ave. where the shooting occurred.
Police obtained a search warrant for Stamat’s apartment and car, which they said turned up an empty gun box for a 9 mm handgun, as well as bullet casings allegedly matching the ones found at the crime scene.
Tampa police said the family of five, consisting of three young children, a father, and a mother who was nine weeks pregnant, were sleeping in a car at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center when a vehicle approached around 4:30 a.m., opened fire, and drove away.
Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor said the father yelled for his family to take cover as several bullets struck their sedan.
“Once the vehicle flees, he realizes his wife is shot,” Chief O’Connor said on Wednesday. “She got shot in the head. By the grace of God, the children did not get hit.”
Authorities said the bullet that struck the mother grazed her in the head. She was transported to an area hospital for treatment.
Tampa police said Stamat did not provide a motive for the shooting, but said that he felt that people were following and stalking him using multiple vehicles, bikes and on foot. There was reportedly no indication that Stamat and the victims knew each other.
“Our community as a whole can sleep easier tonight knowing the suspect linked to this monstrous, random act of violence is no longer free to prey on innocent people,” Chief O’Connor said. “I cannot thank or commend our detectives enough for working so quickly to identify and arrest this suspect.”
Stamat faces six felony charges, including four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of second degree attempted murder and one count of shooting into a vehicle.