ST. PETERSBURG- A 16-year-old who was arrested and accused of killing a St. Petersburg police officer made his first appearance in court Wednesday and was ordered held without bail.
Officer David Crawford was shot multiple times Monday night while investigating a report of a prowler in a neighborhood just south of Tropicana Field where the Tampa Bay Rays play baseball. Crawford was the third St. Petersburg officer to die in the line of duty in the last month.
Police identified the suspect as Nicholas Lindsey. He was arrested late Tuesday following an intense manhunt.
"When he did make the admission on tape for us at the end of the day, it was quite apparent that he was remorseful in his actions," Police Chief Chuck Harmon said during a late night news conference. "He cried."
Lindsey's father made a tearful apology to the community while in the courtroom during the hearing Wednesday, court spokesman Ron Stuart said.
Prosecutors will determine whether to charge the teen as an adult. The Associated Press does not usually identify juveniles until they are charged in adult court, but authorities released his name and the teen's photo and name have been widely disseminated.
A Pinellas County Judge has assigned the public defender's office to represent Lindsey, but no specific attorney has been appointed.
If prosecutors decide to try Lindsey as an adult, a grand jury would review the evidence and determine the charge Lindsey would face.
Lindsey had a prior juvenile criminal record, but the police chief did not give details.
The teen was taken to a juvenile lockup and his parents were cooperating, the chief said. Police did not have a motive except that there was some exchange between Lindsey and officer, Harmon said.
"It breaks my heart," he said. "When you have something like this happen, you don't expect this type of confrontation between a 16-year-old and a police officer to end like this."
Lindsey is a student in the Pinellas County Schools, but Harmon wouldn't say which school. It wasn't clear how he obtained the gun, Harmon said.
Monday night's shooting happened when officers were checking out the prowler call and Crawford, 46, spotted the suspect and got out of his car. At 10:37 p.m., another officer, Donald J. Ziglar, reported an exchange of gunfire and told dispatchers an officer was down, police said.
Ziglar found Crawford lying on the pavement near his cruiser, shot at close range, police said. Crawford was not wearing a bullet proof vest.
Crawford, who was married, eligible for retirement and the father of an adult daughter, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Officers saluted the van that carried his body to the medical examiner's office Tuesday morning. Crawford, who loved horses, lived in a rural community north of St. Petersburg.
On Jan. 24, two St. Petersburg officers - Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz and Thomas Baitinger - were killed as they helped serve a warrant on a man with a long criminal history. Their killer died in the siege. Prior to that, the St. Petersburg Police department hadn't had an officer killed in the line of duty in more than 30 years.
"We're not even done healing from the first tragedy, then boom, we have a second one," said St. Petersburg Detective Mark Marland, who is also the police union president.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said the city will now be able to bury officer Crawford and have some closure - but residents, officers and parents must also learn why a teenager was carrying a handgun.
"We as a community need to stand up and do a better job," Foster said. --- Associated Press writer David Fischer in Miami contributed to this report.
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