Cops say they caught the man behind a “random act of violence” on a homeless family. The victim, a pregnant woman, survived after being struck in the head, according to the Tampa Police Department. Officers identified the suspect on Saturday at Christopher Stamat Jr., 21.
Police said on Wednesday that the incident happened that morning on the 2200 block of N. Oregon Avenue.
“At approximately 4:30 AM, a family of five was sleeping in their vehicle in a parking lot across from the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Complex when the father, an adult male in his 30s, saw headlights from a vehicle that pulled up in front of their car,” officers said. “Immediately after, he heard gunshots and yelled for his wife, an adult female in her 20s, and three children to get down. More than a dozen shots were fired at the vehicle before the suspect sped off, heading southbound on N Oregon Ave.”
The mother got hit in the head but survived with a non-life threatening injury, police said. She was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“The children, a 9-year-old girl, 4-year-old boy, and 3-year-old girl, were all uninjured,” police said. “According to the family, they recently moved back to Tampa after living out of state for several months. Due to a relative in Tampa not having additional room to house them, the family has been living in a rental car.”
Cops said they worked with Choice Hotels to get temporary housing for the family.
Now police say it was Stamat.
“Through investigative means, detectives identified Christopher Stamat Jr., 21, as the owner of the black 2-door 300 series 2012 BMW seen on multiple surveillance videos canvassing the area of N Oregon Ave in the early morning hours of October 5,” cops said. “On October 6, Stamat’s vehicle was located in the garage of a home on the 3200 block of Marcellus Circle in Tampa.”
During questioning, Stamat admitted to being the only person to recently drive his BMW and that he was driving it Wednesday morning around N. Oregon Avenue. Police said they got search warrants for his car and apartment. Detectives claimed to find an empty gun box for a 9mm handgun in the BMW and spent shell casings in his residence that matched casings from the crime scene.
“Upon arrest, Stamat did not provide a motive for the shooting, but did state that he felt people were stalking and following him in different vehicles, on bikes and walking,” police said. “There is still no indication that the victims knew or have any connection to Stamat.”
Stamat faces four counts aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of second-degree attempted murder, and one count of shooting into a vehicle. Records show he was arrested Saturday, just hours after he posted a surety bond for an unrelated charge of possession of cannabis.
“Our community as a whole can sleep easier tonight knowing the suspect linked to this monstrous, random act of violence is no longer free to prey on innocent people,” Chief Mary O’Connor said. “I cannot thank or commend our detectives enough for working so quickly to identify and arrest this suspect.”
[Images via Tampa Police Department]
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