A deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and a St. Petersburg Police Department K9 are recovering after being shot by a suspect who ran from a traffic stop early Friday morning.
Detectives said the incident began at 1:50 a.m. when a Pinellas deputy pulled over a car for a traffic stop at 3rd Avenue South and 30th Street South. The driver, Elijah Johnson, 23, of St. Petersburg, stopped, but then took off.
Investigators said Johnson abandoned his car at 2nd Avenue South and 26th Street. At that point, a St. Petersburg police K9 officer and his dog to begin tracking the area.
“The person who was driving the car, the suspect, shot the K9,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Friday morning.
A short time later, Johnson fired shots at Sgt. David Stang, who was in his unmarked SUV at 3rd Avenue South and 27th Street. The shots were fired through the passenger side of the deputy’s cruiser.
“It appeared as though he was caught by surprise,” Gualtieri said.
Stang accelerated his cruiser away from the shooting scene where rescue crews responded and transported him to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg where his condition is stable. Stang was shot in the shoulder at least twice.
“He lost a considerable amount of blood,” said Gualtieri.
Investigators explained that Stang is expected to be okay and did not suffer any life-threatening injuries.
Johnson was found dead with what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the sheriff said. He was found near 3rd Ave South and 26th Street.
Gualtieri said at this time, it appears no deputy or officer fired a weapon.
Gualtieri said Johnson has a long criminal history and was recently released from prison.
”It was an original traffic stop that he escalated and turned into something, then he tried to kill a deputy. It’s a bad situation all around,” said Gualtieri. “Thank goodness that he’s alive. These are always the calls that you dread. It’s the worst case scenario.”
Stang, 51, has been with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office since 2001.
K9 Titan was shot in the leg and underwent surgery.
“He’s in stable condition. Thankfully, the injury at this point is fine and it doesn’t look like anything that’ll be life-threatening,” said St. Petersburg Lt. David Gerardo.
It could be months before the dog is capable of returning to service, Gerardo said.
More photos of Sgt. Stang and K9 Titan are below.