TAMPA — A former Tampa Bay Storm player was questioned in the shooting death of another man behind the Whole Foods Market in Carrollwood on Tuesday morning.
David Saunders, a West Virginia University football standout who played with Tampa's Arena Football League team from 2002 through 2005 and for a few games in 2008, was not arrested. He said he fired the shot in self-defense because Deshaun Gregory was coming at him with a knife behind the grocery store on Northdale Boulevard, just west of North Dale Mabry Highway.
“Two men were involved in a verbal altercation and one fired a round at the other, killing him,” said sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon. Gregory, 31, of Tampa, was shot once in the head, McKinnon said.
Gregory was described as the boyfriend of a woman who was being personally trained by Saunders. She also was at the scene, McKinnon said.
Deputies interviewed the woman and Saunders, of Tampa, after the 10:30 a.m. shooting.
Deputies arrived to find Gregory lying in the lot next to the white sport-utility vehicle owned by Saunders.
McKinnon said Gregory and his girlfriend had parked in the Whole Foods parking lot and were arguing about Saunders. The nature of the relationships were unclear, McKinnon said, and detectives continued late Tuesday to look into the backgrounds of the three to determine what may have motivated the incident.
Gregory spotted Saunders in his vehicle behind the store and walked across the parking lot to confront the personal trainer, who had gotten out of his vehicle, McKinnon said.
At some point, Gregory pulled an 8-inch kitchen knife and began moving toward Saunders, McKinnon said. They fought and during the struggle, a shot was fired by Saunders, he said.
The investigation will be turned over to the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office, which will review the case to determine if criminal charges will be filed.
The name of the woman was not released because she is a witness. Both the knife and the semi-automatic handgun were recovered, McKinnon said.
Saunders, 37, played wide receiver for West Virginia and still holds the record for most career receiving yards with 2,608 yards and the record for most career receptions with 191. After leaving the Mountaineers in 1998, he left football for two years, but signed with the New Jersey Red Dogs of the Arena Football League in 2000. He began playing with the Storm two years later and was named the team's Most Valuable Player in 2002.
In 2003, he was part of the Storm's AFL ArenaBowl XVII championship team.
He left the team in 2006 to play with the Grand Rapids Rampage and returned to the Storm for part of the 2008 season, but was traded to the Arizona Rattlers, who released him at the end of the season, drawing his eight-year AFL career to a close.