CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — The Clearwater Police Department said the suspect killed by deputies last Thursday brandished a BB gun during his encounter with law enforcement.
CPD Police Chief Dan Slaughter said the incident began when the family of Robert Hubbard, 43, of Tampa, informed the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office of “disturbing text messages” they got from Hubbard.
While HCSO responded to the text messages, Hubbard stole a golf cart and unsuccessfully tried to carjack someone.
He eventually was successfully in carjacking another vehicle while brandishing what appeared to be a gun. This would be the vehicle Hubbard was driving at the time of his death, according to law enforcement.
Police said later that night, Hubbard tried to rob someone in Pasco County. The next day, officers spotted him driving the stolen car in Pinellas County, and a chase ensued through Clearwater and into Safety Harbor.
They deployed stop sticks, which deflated his tires, but Hubbard continued driving. He eventually got out of his car and pointed what appeared to be a gun at police. This was later revealed to be BB gun that resembled a firearm, according to Slaughter.
“He had the ability to shoot these deputies if it was possible,” he said.
Four deputies fired shots at Hubbard, killing him, according to the report. Slaughter said Hubbard suffered four gunshot wounds in the thigh, neck, left arm, and his shoulders.
“There’s no reason that these deputies would have any knowledge this firearm was not real, and certainly Mr. Hubbard presented to the deputies as if it was real,” the chief said.
The officers were identified as Robert Smith, Daniel Abbott, Anthony Hellstern and Demarcus Flournoy.
According to Slaughter, Hubbard had a long criminal history for bank robbery and fleeing law enforcement, having served prison time from 2013 to 2016 and 2019 to 2020.
The chief said Hubbard’s family believed the suspect was abusing prescription meds and alcohol at the time of his death.
The Pinellas County Use of Deadly Force Investigative Task Force is investigating the shooting.