UPDATE: State Attorney Bernie McCabe said Monday this shooting has been deemed justified. “As a result of this investigation, I have determined that Deputies Gauthier and Segrete were in the lawful performance of their legal duties when they confronted John Zemola,” McCabe said. “(The suspect) was wielding a knife on the street and advancing towards the deputies, and Deputies Gauthier and Segrete justifiably believed that Deputy Gauthier’s life was in danger and they were authorized to use deadly force pursuant to Florida Statute 776.012.”
PREVIOUS STORY: PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – One man is dead following a deputy-involved shooting in Pinellas County, according to authorities. No deputies were injured.
The shooting happened late Saturday at about 10:30 p.m. near a home on the 5100 block of 64th Street North, in unincorporated St. Petersburg.
According to PCSO, deputies responded to the home after a 911 call came in for a domestic disturbance. Detectives say that Deputy Jake Guathier and Deputy Jonathan Segrete responded and parked their cruisers along 64th Street. At the scene, authorities say the deputies observed 49-year-old John F. Zemola ramming a car and their house, knocking a front pillar down, with his pickup truck.
According to detectives, Zemola had history of mental health issues and had been drinking, after a year of sobriety, PCSO said.
Deputies say that when they approached Zemora, he put the truck in reverse and pulled onto 64th Street where his vehicle became disabled. He then got out of the truck with a knife in his hand and after deputies told him several times to drop the knife, deputies say Zemora made the statement, “You’re going to have to kill me,” according to PCSO.
The deputies tried to move back, all-the-while Zemora kept moving towards them, PCSO said. When he was about 3 to 5 feet away, the deputies fired several rounds at Zemora and struck him in the upper body where he fell and was deceased in the roadway, PCSO said.
Sheriff Gualtieri held a press conference near the scene saying, “We are very fortunate that the deputies are safe and that they were able to do what they did to protect themselves because he was clearly coming at them,” Gualtieri said.
The deputies involved will be placed on routine paid administrative leave.
You can watch the press conference on the sheriff’s office Youtube page by clicking here.