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Tampa man watched as shooting spree suspect walked toward officer and opened fire

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – He saw everything happening right in front of him. The officer backing up trying to get away from the shooter, and the way a Tampa man describes it, he’s amazed no one else was hurt by the rain of bullets.

“I could tell that the way that he was driving something was obviously wrong,” said Carl Soto.

Soto and his wife were driving down East Hillsborough Thursday night when he saw a police cruiser backing out into traffic from North 43rd Street.

“You could clearly see the window was bashed out, shot out, whatever. You could see the remnants of the glass. Then you could also see his front tire was flat. When I looked at him he was clearly in distress,” said Soto.

Seconds later he says he saw a man police now identify as Antonio Ortiz walking towards the officer firing repeatedly.

“He was looking backwards, but his face, I first knew that he looked very young. He had to have been younger than me, and the other thing was that he just looked scared.”

Calling 911 he told dispatch to send every officer they could. He knew the weapon being fired was packing serious heat.

“There was absolutely no way on God’s earth that a handgun could do that kind of damage, especially to a police cruiser that is designed to take a certain type of ammunition and fire,” said Soto.

He says the officer in this case was clearly a victim.

“Me as a person, regardless of the issues I’m having with tpd, there is something called right is right, and wrong is wrong. What happened last night was wrong,” said Soto.

That officer shot in the forearm is back home and resting.

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