Deputy Involved Shooting

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Investigative Operations Bureau
- Robbery/ Homicide Unit

St. Petersburg Police Department

Auto Theft Task Force

Deputy Yariel Mata
Hire Date: 6/8/2012

Corey L. Williams (Arrested)
DOB: 12/03/1984
Address: 2300 23rd Street South, St. Petersburg
Charges: Aggravated Battery, Fleeing and Eluding, Driving on Suspended or Revoked License

Alton F. Witchard (Deceased)         
DOB: 9/28/1978
Address: 7724 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg

Detectives assigned to the Robbery/Homicide Unit are investigating a deputy involved shooting that fatally injured a man after he pointed an assault rifle at deputies.

The incident started at about 3:10 a.m. on May 7, 2016.

The shooting occurred in the yard of a residence located at 2220 21st Avenue South, St. Petersburg.

Detectives assigned to the Robbery/Homicide Unit are investigating a deputy involved shooting that fatally injured a man after he pointed an assault rifle at deputies.

According to detectives, members of the Auto Theft Task Force were in the area of 22nd Avenue South and 16th Street South when they first observed the vehicle, a 1998 Ford Windstar van, driving recklessly at a high rate of speed. Law enforcement officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office working together on the task force believed that this van may have been stolen.

Law enforcement officers initially lost sight of the van. Law enforcement officers located the van near 1400 18th Avenue North and followed the vehicle. A St. Petersburg police officer in a marked cruiser activated his emergency lights and attempted to stop the van for reckless driving near 1414 20th Avenue South. The driver of the van, who was later identified as 31-year-old Cory Williams, accelerated in reverse and crashed into an unmarked police car. The passenger in the van was later identified as, 37-year-old Alton Witchard. The initial crash caused minor injury to one of the police officers inside the unmarked car.

The vehicle continued southbound accelerating at a high rate of speed and left the roadway striking the front end of another St. Petersburg police vehicle before accelerating and fleeing west on 20th Avenue South.

The PCSO helicopter followed Williams as he continued to flee from police officers and sheriff’s deputies.  Deputies observed Williams van driving westbound on 22nd Avenue South and they began following the vehicle as it made a northbound turn on 22nd Street South and turned immediately west into an alley just south of 21st Avenue South.

The van slowed when it entered the alley and Whitchard who was a passenger in the van, immediately exited the van and was observed carrying an AR-15 assault rifle. Williams continued to flee in the van westbound down the alleyway and was followed by deputies. 

Deputy Mata followed Whitchard as he ran north on the east side of the residence located at 2220 21st Avenue South. Deputy Mata yelled commands to Witchard several times to drop the gun. As Witchard continued northbound and rounded the east side of the house through the front yard of the residence, Deputy Mata gave more verbal commands to drop the gun when Witchard turned with the rifle toward Deputy Mata. Deputy Mata feared for his life and fired his handgun at Witchard approximately five times striking Witchard twice.

Deputies at the scene performed CPR and rendered first aid to Witchard. Witchard was transported to Bayfront Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased.

Witchard’s next-of-kin has been notified.

Williams was stopped shortly afterwards and arrested at 2247 23rd Avenue South. Williams was charged with aggravated battery, fleeing and eluding, and driving on a suspended or revoke driver’s license.

 “The AR-15 rifle was loaded with 17, .223 caliber rounds of ammunition and the switch on the AR-15 was in the fire position” Sheriff Gualtieri said during a press conference. “We are thankful that no law enforcement officers were hurt or killed as a result of Witchard’s actions.”

Deputy Mata will be placed on routine paid administrative leave.

The investigation continues.

The entire press conference can be viewed here on our YouTube Page:

The actual AR-15 rifle recovered from Alton Witchard at the scene.

The actual .223 caliber rounds of ammunition recovered from Witchard’s AR-15 at the scene.

Previous booking photograph of Alton Witchard.

Previous booking photo of Corey Williams.

Posted by Saturday, May 7, 2016 5:05:00 PM Categories: Death Investigations

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