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Tampa Police Officer Injured During Shooting Spree in Hillsborough

Antonio Cruz Ortiz | Arrests | Crime

The officer has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. Two others also suffered injuries and nine others, including two children, were shot at but not hit during the shooting spree.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – Three people, including a Tampa police officer, were hit during a shooting spree that spanned portions of Tampa and Hillsborough County on Thursday night.

The officer, 24, has been released from Tampa General Hospital and is recovering at home from an injury to his arm caused by the gunshots and flying glass. Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan met him at the hospital and said he was in good spirits. He has been with the Tampa Police Department for 11 months.

The other two suffered non-life-threatening wounds.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said there were three shooting incidents in the county:

Fountain Mist Drive and Tadpole Lane – Five victims identified as being shot at by a passing vehicle in the area. None were struck.

Lambright Street and Dale Mabry Hwy – One victim was shot at, but not struck, within his vehicle. The bullets flattened tires.

Lambright Street west of Himes Avenue – One additional victim on Lambright was shot at, but not struck, within his vehicle. A bullet struck the vehicle.

Sligh Avenue West of Habana Avenue – Four victims were within a vehicle when the arrestee shot at their vehicle. The two  adult victims (driver/front passenger) were hit and sustained non-life-threatening injuries . The two children who were within the back seat, ages 4 and 2, were not struck by the bullets.

Antonio Cruz Ortiz, 31, of Tampa, was arrested and charged with seven counts of Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, four counts of Attempted Second Degree Murder, and three counts of Shooting at an Occupied Vehicle.

Because the shooting spree spanned several jurisdictions, officers from the Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol were involved in the investigation. Information in this report comes from the Tampa police and Hillsborough sheriff.

Tampa police said that about 6:52 p.m. Thursday (July 30), officers received a 911 call regarding a suspect’s shooting from a moving vehicle on I-275 near West Shore Boulevard. Additional calls were received

with similar reports in the area of Reo Street and Cypress Street. A report was received regarding victims’ being shot by the same suspect reported on I-275 near West Shore Boulevard.

Just after 7:30 p.m., a Tampa police officer tried a felony stop on Ortiz, who was traveling east on E Hillsborough Avenue. Ortiz pulled his vehicle southbound onto N 43rd Street exited, and opened fire on the officer.

Multiple rounds penetrated the front windshield and shattered the back windshield.

The officer ducked as the bullets came towards him. Multiple shots penetrated the front windshield and shattered the rear windshield of the of the police car. Ortiz then ran into the Park Terrace apartment complex where officers tracked him to a third floor landing and took him into custody.

Hillsborough deputies said that, about 7:28 p.m., a resident on the 6300 block of Tadpole Lane in the Egypt Lake-Leto area reported seeing shots fired from a vehicle towards juveniles at a nearby park. Deputies responded and did not find anyone with injuries.

Shortly after at 7:33 p.m., an emergency call came in from the intersection of W Sligh Avenue and N Habana Avenue, where two victims reported being shot by a passing driver while inside their vehicle. Both victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

About 7:35 p.m. at N Dale Mabry Highway and Lambright Street, another driver’s car was shot at leaving tires flattened. The driver pulled over in a CVS parking lot and called 911. The driver was not hurt during the shooting.

Deputies said they believe Ortiz is linked to all three incidents. Ortiz began and ended his shooting spree within the city of Tampa before ultimately crashing his vehicle and being arrested within the city.

“We are thankful that through coordinated efforts with the Tampa Police Department, we were able to locate this dangerous individual who put so many lives at risk by shooting at random,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “This is still a very active investigation, and we are working to determine why this person acted in such a violent manner. The pain he has caused his victims, including a Tampa Police Officer, and his reckless disregard for human life is unacceptable. He will be charged to the fullest extent of the law for his actions.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

PHOTO OF ANTONIO CRUZ ORTIZ COURTESY OF THE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE. PHOTO OF THE REAR WINDOW OF THE POLICE CAR COURTESY OF THE TAMPA POLICE DEPARTMENT.

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