ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – At 17-years old, Christopher Tonsel was no stranger to the law. According to St. Petersburg police, officers had arrested him three times in the month of July for burglary, assault and car burglary.
He is now a suspect in an armed robbery involving a 10-year old and a 15-year old victim that happened last weekend.
On Wednesday, officers responded to Wildwood Park after getting a call that a young man with a gun was fighting with a young woman.
When they arrived, they discovered Tonsel was the man they were looking for. He took off. Officers went after him and eventually, K-9 officer Leighton Williams confronted him behind a home on 13th Avenue South.
Maya, who didn’t want to give her last name, lives nearby and saw the whole thing.
“He said, put your hands up. Drop your weapon. And then he said I’m going to shoot, and then he just shot him,” said Maya. “I saw the police officer shoot him. He was standing right in front of that car with that blue thing on it. And I don’t know if you see the tip of the grill right there, a little bit before the grill, that’s where he got shot at. “
The Pinellas County use of Deadly Force Investigative Taskforce is handling the investigation into the incident. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri believes the officer acted appropriately.
“He did everything he had to do to save his own life. And that’s what all the information points to at this point,” said Sheriff Gualtieri. “From everything we’ve seen from the physical evidence, from the statements, from what we know. There is body cam video, from the situation and of course we’ll be reviewing that. “
Andrew Walker lives next door to the home where the shooting happened. He heard his dog barking outside yesterday afternoon.
“I was back there in the backyard, she was barking, I heard the pop, some yelling and then I booked back inside,” said Walker. “Sort of makes you reflect on life and think about what’s important. “
Tonsel’s grandmother, who currently has legal custody of him, declined an on-camera interview. She did say she went to the hospital on Thursday morning to see him, but hospital staff wouldn’t let her in because he is a confidential information patient.