TAMPA — They knew it was going to be a high-risk search of a suspected drug dealer’s home. That’s why they brought the SWAT team along.
The first person the SWAT team saw in the home at 906 W. Knollwood St. was apprehended without incident on Tuesday night.
The second person they saw was pointing a gun at them, police said.
The SWAT team shot the man at least once. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he died.
He was identified early Wednesday morning as Jason Joseph Westcott, 29.
Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said the incident began at about 7 p.m. Tuesday when officers arrived to execute a search warrant on the rental house in the Riverbend neighborhood, near North Boulevard and Sligh Avenue. She said officers had been investigating Westcott for months, and undercover officers had made multiple purchases of marijuana from the small, one-bedroom home.
She said the first man officers encountered in the home did not resist. When the officers went to the bedroom and the door opened, Westcott was inside pointing a handgun at them, McElroy said.
McElroy said she was not sure how many times officers shot but that Westcott was hit at least once. She said she did not think Westcott fired his gun before he was shot.
“I don’t believe he had time to shoot at officers,’’ McElroy said.
Peter Zwolinski was renting the house to the two men. He said the two men had been late on rent a time or two but otherwise were not problem tenants. He said he had been at the home numerous times, had not smelled marijuana or seen drugs or weapons, and had no complaints from neighbors.
“They told me they were nice and quiet and minded their own business,’’ he said.
McElroy said police were still determining what, if any charges, the other tenant might face.