St. Pete officer shot gunman after chase, sheriff says

The individual was hospitalized. The officer was not injured.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A police officer shot a gunman around 9 p.m. Thursday in South St. Pete, investigators say.

It happened near Twin Brooks Commons.

Authorities say St. Pete Police Officer Christian Collins, an experienced officer who had just been recruited from Philadelphia, was only days away from his field training here in Florida. Collins was driving a cruiser with a field training officer in the passenger seat when the training night took a turn.

Around 8:50 p.m., police received calls about a gunman in the area of ​​34th Street and South 22nd Avenue. Some callers said the man had previously fired a gun a few blocks away, according to law enforcement.

As Collins was driving north, authorities say he and a field training officer spotted 22-year-old Torey Barber, who had a gun and appeared to be the man people were calling 911 about. Investigators say the weapon appeared to be a 9mm handgun with an extended magazine.

Barber is transient and living with mental health issues – having previously been Baked Acted, according to investigators.

As the field training officer jumped at a bus stop and confronted Barber, authorities said the man began running north on the 34th. As the training officer ran after him , investigators say Officer Collins followed him into the cruiser.

At one point, per the Twin Brooks Commons, authorities say Barber took a stance with his hands that suggested he might be about to shoot at police. At that time, investigators say Collins – who was still in the driver’s seat – fired through the passenger window and struck Barber in the arm and shoulder.

Barber’s injuries are not life-threatening, according to first responders.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said after Barber is treated in the hospital, he will be jailed. At a minimum, the sheriff said Barber would be charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is spearheading the investigation through its partnership with the Pinellas County Use of Lethal Force Task Force. The task force, which also includes the St. Pete and Clearwater Police Departments, investigates police-involved shootings so that the agency involved does not investigate itself. In this case, since it was a police officer from St. Pete who shot someone, the sheriff’s office will investigate.

As is protocol in these situations, Collins will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation. Because the field training officer did not fire a weapon, that officer will return to duty on Friday, St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway said.

Detectives are still interviewing witnesses. And, Gualtieri said preliminary information released Thursday night was subject to change.

Police said part of 34th Street was temporarily closed in both directions so detectives could scour the scene.