After more than a five hour standoff that involved an armored truck, a battering ram, and a negotiator, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s SWAT team arrested Gulfport man Kyle South, 34, on Friday, April 2, at 6:31 p.m.
The incident took place on the 1200 block of 55th Street South.
At 1:03 p.m. Gulfport police received a call from South’s neighbors, who reported that South had fired a gun into their home. South and his neighbors had three prior disputes, two of which involved the police. On February 16, South told police his neighbors “were conspiring to have him and or family members killed due to COVID,” according to Gulfport Police Chief Rob Vincent. On March 16 police once again visited South, who claimed his neighbors had stolen packages.
A third incident, which the police only learned about last night, involved South’s dog, Larry. South accused neighbors of poisoning Larry and told them “if he found out they were ‘I’m gonna kill you,’” Vincent told the Gabber.
On Friday, police tried to get South to come out of the home. They also tried to call his phone to get him to come outside. South refused, instead calling his lawyer. A negotiator made a call to South, who still refused to leave his home.
Gulfport Police called the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to assist with an MRAP (Mine-resistant Ambush Protectant; essentially, a large armored car), a Rook (an armored car named after the chess piece) and the SWAT team. Shortly before 6:30 p.m., the SWAT team deployed the Rook, which smashed through South’s front window.
At that point, South exited the home with his hands up, then lowered himself to the ground. PCSO deputies arrested him.
Although police could not enter South’s residence until they received a warrant, Sergeant Mike Vandenberg did inspect the neighbor’s window. In between two glass panes, he found a BB, indicating South had fired his BB gun into their home. Police say South also had a rifle.
Had South fired the rifle, police would have charged him with attempted murder. Because he used his BB gun instead, police charged him with Shooting into an Occupied Dwelling.
Gulfport called in off-duty officers to secure the perimeter, although PCSO had the equipment and manpower to handle a barricaded, armed suspect. Nevertheless, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who was on the scene, demurred, saying PCSO only assisted GPD.
“We’re just here to help Gulfport,” Gualtieri told the Gabber.
The investigation is ongoing. Larry the dog remains unharmed.