Police Officer David S. Crawford St. Petersburg Police Department Florida End of Watch: Monday, February 21, 2011

Patch image: St. Petersburg Police Department, Florida

Police Officer David S. Crawford
St. Petersburg Police Department

End of Watch: Monday, February 21, 2011

Biographical Info
Age: 46
Tour of Duty: 25 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Monday, February 21, 2011
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: At large

Police Officer David Crawford was shot and killed after responding to a report of a suspicious person.
At approximately 10:30 pm Officer Crawford and another officer responded to a report of a suspicious person on the 700 block of 3rd Avenue after a citizen observed a male walking through his backyard with a broken brick in his hand. Officer Crawford canvassed the area and found the subject near the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue S and 8th Street S. He parked his patrol car and approached the male. At some point during the encounter there was an exchange of gunfire and Officer Crawford was shot and wounded. He was taken to Bayfront Medical Center where he died from his wounds.
The suspect fled and remains at large.
Officer Crawford had served with the St. Petersburg Police Department for 25 years.

Agency Contact Information
St. Petersburg Police Department
1300 First Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Phone: (727) 893-7780
Please contact the St. Petersburg Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

ST. PETERSBURG — Veteran St. Petersburg police officer David S. Crawford was shot and killed Monday as he and another officer investigated a report of a prowler at a downtown residence.

Crawford’s killing came one month after two St. Petersburg police officers were shot dead in the line of duty — the first police officers killed in the city in 31 years.

An intensive manhunt was underway for the killer Tuesday morning, with several downtown blocks closed and police checking cars. The Tampa Police Department immediately sent 12 officers to help secure the search area, and later dedicated more officers, said spokeswoman Laura McElroy. Officers from other agencies including the Florida Highway Patrol assisted as well.

The search was focused on an area bounded by Fourth Street S and 16th Street S, and Fourth Avenue S and 15th Avenue S (see map below). Police said they had reason to believe the shooter was still there Tuesday morning.

It was unclear whether Crawford’s killer was injured in an exchange of gunfire.

The shooting occurred just after 10:30 p.m. near Eighth Street and Third Avenue S. Crawford, a 25-year veteran of the department, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. His family was at the hospital early Tuesday morning.

Police said Crawford, 46, was shot multiple times, but also returned fire.

“It hurts,” Police Chief Chuck Harmon said at a news conference outside the hospital just after 2 a.m. “It stings. This killer has taken someone very precious to us, a member of our family.” He called on the public for any information related to the shooting.

At 6:18 a.m. Tuesday, a white van left Bayfront Medical Center. Uniformed and plainclothes police officers lined up along a driveway on either side of the van and saluted as it passed, accompanied by two police cars with their emergency lights flashing. They headed down Sixth Street S.

About a dozen police officers were milling in front of the trauma center just before dawn.

Here’s the police account of what happened Monday night:

About 10:30 p.m., Crawford, and officer Donald J. Ziglar, 41, went to the 700 block of Third Avenue S to investigate a report of a suspicious person. Ziglar arrived at 10:34 p.m. and Crawford arrived a few seconds later.

A resident reported seeing a man holding a broken brick in his hand and walking into the back yard of the resident’s home. The resident suspected the man was going to commit a burglary, police said.

Crawford drove around the area and found the prowler near the southwest corner of Second Avenue S and Eighth Street S. He parked and approached the man.

At 10:37 p.m., Officer Ziglar reported an exchange of gunfire. He told dispatchers that an officer had been shot.

Ziglar found Crawford on the pavement near his police cruiser. He had been shot multiple times at close range and was taken to Bayfront Medical Center.

The suspect ran away, heading south. Police dogs tracked the suspect for several blocks before losing the suspect’s scent. Officers with bloodhounds assisted.

At least 50 police officers and the Pinellas sheriff’s helicopter and canine units began an intense search of the city for the shooter.

The suspect was described as a black male in his late teens or early 20s last seen wearing a dark-colored hoodie.

“This is too much — not again'” said Don Enge, of St. Petersburg, who lives within a couple blocks of where the original call was dispatched. “I can’t stand to see this.”

He said he heard helicopters and sirens Monday night and officers knocked on his door around 1 a.m. Tuesday as they canvassed the neighborhood looking for the suspect.

“It’s just not fair.”

Anthony Ciecalone, 26, said he was sitting on his porch drinking a glass of wine when he heard six shots. He said it sounded like four shots came from one gun, two from another.

Ciecalone grabbed his camera and ran with a friend to within 35 feet of where the downed officer lay. He said the officer was on his back and had a leg in the air.

He said fellow officers descended on the area and surrounded the officer. The other officers were yelling for an ambulance, which arrived quickly and took the wounded officer away.

Before running toward the officer, Ciecalone saw a man running away from the scene and then saw a dark sedan or Pontiac Grand Am peel out of the area, he said.

Chris Magner, 30, who lives in the area near where the shooting occurred, said he was watching television with his girlfriend when he heard as many as 10 shots coming from across the street from his house.

“We heard some gunshots, obviously from two different guns because one was way louder than the other one,” Magner said.

Magner said he came outside and saw a number of police cars race into the area. He didn’t see the injured officer or the shooter.

Police did not say whether Crawford was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Michael Poncedeleon was driving through downtown with his brother when he saw Crawford leaning against his police car and fall to the ground, Bay News 9 reported. He jumped out of the car as his brother called 911.

“Blood was everywhere and he was just basically mumbling,” Poncedeleon said. “I couldn’t make it out. I was pretty scared.”

He said he stayed with the officer, yelling at him in an attempt to keep him conscious, until police arrived.

The city is still coping with the shooting deaths of Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz and Thomas Baitinger, who were killed Jan. 24 in a confrontation with an armed suspect in an attic. Police laid siege to Lacy’s home at 3734 28th Ave. S in St. Petersburg with armored vehicles and nearly destroyed it until his body found was found hours later.

Earlier Monday, some 280 people attended a golf fundraiser for the officers’ families at Feather Sound Country Club.

“This city has been through hell,” Mayor Bill Foster said at the news conference outside the hospital. “Our hearts are broken.”

Before the double killing last month, it had been 30 years since the last St. Petersburg officer died in the line of duty. Detective Herbert R. Sullivan was shot in 1980 during an undercover drug buy by a suspect who then sneaked through a police perimeter.

The Tampa Bay area has now had six officers shot to death in the line of duty in the last two years. The Tampa Police Department has lost three officers: Officers David Curtis, Jeffrey Kocab and Cpl. Mike Roberts.

Harmon said he could see the look of shock on the faces of his officers.

“As I saw their faces tonight it was … not again,” Harmon said.

Crawford was sworn in as a police officer on July 13, 1985.


City Council member Leslie Curran, who also stood by at the hospital as news spread of Crawford’s death, said she worried how the police and community will cope with this latest crisis.

“They were going good, and they were in fundraising mode for Yaslowitz and Baitinger,” she said. “It’s just so tragic. I just don’t know. There’s just going to be a lot of sorting out. It’s a terrible day for the police and for the city. Hopefully, we’ll get the guy, and quickly.”

The tense hospital scene felt like a replay of the last. Police cars surrounded Bayfront and officers both in uniforms and plainclothes streamed in and out of the trauma center. Only a half hour after Crawford entered the hospital — and two hours before the mayor and police chief officially announced his death — a hysterical officer sobbed into his cell phone. A woman came outside and crouched against a wall, holding her face in her hands.

People soberly watched around midnight as a white van with flashing lights arrived and two men unloaded coolers, presumably intended for organ donations, and wheeled them toward the emergency room.

At 6:18 a.m. Tuesday, a medical examiner’s van left Bayfront Medical Center. Uniformed and plainclothes police officers lined up along a driveway on either side of the van and saluted as the it passed, accompanied by two police cars with their emergency lights flashing.


1 Response to “Police Officer David S. Crawford St. Petersburg Police Department Florida End of Watch: Monday, February 21, 2011”

  1. 1 Kelley Kopicki February 22, 2011 at 21:51

    It’s hard to come to grips with the fact that another St. Petersburg Police officer has been so tragically gunned down in a months time. To Officer Crawford, thank you for a job well done…you are truly a HERO in the eyes of your fellow officers, your family & the whole community! May God bless his family with the love & peace only He can give. We will never forget…….you will always be remembered & rest in peace.

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