St. Pete Man, Injured in Shootout, Pleads Guilty in Federal Court
He was a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
TAMPA – A St. Petersburg man who was involved in a shootout pleaded guilty to a federal firearms offense, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said.
Lavonta Hill, 27, of St. Petersburg, pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
According to court documents, on Jan. 25, 2017, at about 3:45 a.m., Hill was involved in a shootout in a residential area on 15th Avenue S, near 16th Street S in St. Petersburg. Shortly after the shooting, St. Petersburg Police Department officers found Hill on the ground in the parking lot of a nearby liquor store, bleeding from his head and one arm. Hill, who at the time was a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition, denied knowing where the shooting occurred, who shot him, or why. He was taken to a hospital and treated for gunshot wounds.
Further investigation by SPPD determined that the shooting had occurred in an area on 15th Street S encompassing several houses, where at least 62 rounds of ammunition had been fired.
In the front yard of one of the residences, an officer found a blue recycling container with blood smeared on it. Under the container, the officer found a firearm with blood on it and investigators discovered a trail of blood drops leading from that residence to the liquor store parking lot, ending at the spot where the officers had found Hill.
A surveillance video from the grocery store showed a man staggering across the parking lot and crossing the street toward the liquor store at about 3:46 a.m., and witnesses described seeing Hill stumble and sway as he approached the liquor store. DNA from the blood on the firearm and recycling bin matched Hill’s DNA and a firearms and ballistics expert determined that two of the cartridge cases from the shooting scene were fired from the firearm linked to Hill.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the SPPD, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program designed to bring together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer.
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