Officer shoots man threatening people with axe, report says

11:25 AM, Sep 24, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - A St. Petersburg police officer says he shot and killed 27-year-old Kenneth Sprankle after he charged at him with an axe Monday evening around 6:45 near 1st Avenue North and 4th Street in St Petersburg.

Surveillance video from a business in the area clearly shows the image of Sprankle walking with an axe in his hand. 

Mike Puetz, a spokesman for the St. Petersburg Police Department says, "A man came around the corner wielding an axe - this was described as a very large axe - a fireman's ax."

Photos: Man seen on surveillance carrying axe

It all unfolded in front of the St. Petersburg Municipal Services Building at a time of day when people were getting off work and heading home. Puetz said at that very time Officer Damien Schmidt was pulling up to the scene and saw Sprankle with the axe.

"He immediately withdrew his weapon - ordered Sprankle to drop the axe. Sprankle kept advancing on him and got within about 7 feet of him when the officer discharged his weapon," he said. "The man did collapse to the ground - he was pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics."

Police aren't sure why Sprankle had an axe or where he got it from. They do believe he's a local transient.  Sprankle does have a history of mental health issues and has been taken into custody under the Baker Act by the St. Petersburg Police on seven different occasions since March 2013. The most recent incidents took place on September 14th and 16th of this year.

Puetz said what's so troubling about this case is the fact that the he was seen earlier in the day in Williams Park with that axe.

"And he had threatened some people at that point. But it's not clear whether or not anybody ever called the police at that point," he said. "It seemed as the day was progressing he started to get more agitated - more aggressive with the axe and that's when the police got called." 

Officer Schmidt, who shot Sprankle, is said to have been on the force for 30 years.

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