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US: Florida man aims laser at deputies, is shot dead

A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy shot and killed a man who had been pointing a laser at a group of deputies early this morning [Feb. 4 2005], WTSP-10 News reports. Thomas Setzer, 24, was said to have aimed the laser from the second floor of an apartment building. The shooting occurred as the deputies went to the apartment to investigate.

Concerned they were being targeted by a laser-sighted weapon, a deputy trained a spotlight on a second-floor window at the adjacent Boardwalk Apartments, and the laser stopped. Then the beam appeared again, this time focusing on the deputies' bodies and tracking them as they walked.

Deputies drove to the apartments to investigate. Within minutes, the man they say pointed the laser was dead.
Authorities said the deputies wound up in a confrontation with Thomas D. Setzer in the door of his apartment. They said one deputy fired a shotgun blast after Setzer, who authorities thought might be armed, refused to show his hands and made a sudden movement.

"We still don't know why he (Setzer) pointed the laser at the deputies," said sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha. "But the deputies went there not knowing if someone was aiming a gun at them or not."

Setzer, 24, was pronounced dead at St. Petersburg General Hospital.

According to Pasha, Deputy Ryan E. Buckley, 32, ordered Setzer, who was standing by his front door, to show his hands. Buckley, a nine-year veteran of the force, could see Setzer's left hand, but his right hand was concealed in the doorway.

After several more commands to show his hands, Setzer said, "You're not going to get her" and turned suddenly.

It was then that Buckley fired his shotgun, striking Setzer in the upper chest.

Deputies did not find a gun or a laser on or near Setzer's body. They said an inspection of the apartment found three handguns, including a loaded semiautomatic in a drawer about 8 feet from the door. Police also found three devices that shoot a laser beam, including one that can be mounted on a gun.

Additional details are available from a Homeland Security blog post quoting news sources.

An Associated Press version of the story appeared in the Orlando Sentinel, Feb. 5 2005, section B, page 5. A scan of the article is
here. Online, go to the Sentinel archives and search for “Man Reaches for Laser, Shot Dead”.