ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Six St. Petersburg police officers are on administrative leave after the fatal shooting of an armed man on a front porch early Saturday.
Officers were called twice to the neighborhood after residents reported hearing gunshots and loud music, said police spokesman Mike Puetz. While on the scene a second time, officers heard a gunshot and saw an armed man standing on an enclosed front porch.
The man initially responded to officers’ commands to lower his weapon but then picked up a rifle that he pointed at the officers in his yard, Puetz said.
According to police, six officers fired at the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police identified the man as Lealann Russell Melder Cooley. Investigators found other weapons and ammunition in Cooley’s house, Puetz said.
Cooley’s wife and 16-year-old daughter lived with him but were not at the house at the time of the shooting. They told investigators that Cooley had been drinking heavily and acting strangely on Friday.
“He had been taking his firearms out and loading them while acting paranoid and making suicidal threats,” Puetz said.
Both women decided to leave the house to stay with relatives until Cooley’s behavior improved, police said.
Neighbors also told investigators that Cooley had been intermittently firing a gun in his backyard on Friday and early Saturday.
The six officers placed on leave range in age from 30 to 61. The most experienced in the group is a lieutenant who has been serving as a police officer since 1975. The other officers joined the department from 1999 through 2009.