Officers: Wellness check leads to fatal shooting in Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A police officer fatally shot a man early Sunday while conducting a wellness check at a home in St. Petersburg, officials said.

Just before 4 a.m. Sunday, St. Petersburg police officers responded to a report of a hit and run. Officers found the bumper of the suspect’s car at the scene with the license plate still attached, according to a news release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The officers ran a check on the license plate and found it was registered to a woman at an apartment in St. Petersburg. They went to the address and attempted to make contact with the car owner, but no one answered.

Eventually they made contact with the car’s owner, who now lives in an assisted living home. She told investigators she was concerned about her son, who lives in the apartment.

They returned to the apartment and attempted to talk to Gus Spanoudis, 63, sometime after 6 a.m. Sunday, the report said.

The officers, with assistance from the St. Petersburg Fire Department, made a forced entry into the apartment and found Spanoudis in a back bedroom.

Detectives said Spanoudis made suicidal statements and pointed a firearm at Officer Jace Morrow. The officer issued several commands to drop the firearm, but Spanoudis did not do so, the news release said.

The officer then fired at Spanoudis, who was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

The shooting is being investigated by the Pinellas County Use of Deadly Force Investigative Taskforce, which was created in 2020 to ensure that investigations of use of force incidents are thorough, complete, and objective.

Morrow will be placed on no duty status until investigation is completed.

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