SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. — “It’s just a shock. Nothing like that ever happens around here.”
- John Clark shot, killed by deputies near home in Safety Harbor
- Deputies responded to home on Flanders Way around 2:30 a.m.
- Authorities: John Clark shot and killed his mother Susan earlier in the evening
That’s how neighbors are reacting after gunshots shook their typically quiet Safety Harbor neighborhood early Saturday morning.
“It’s a very friendly, quiet, peaceful, neighborhood. We walk every morning and people are out walking their dogs,” said Ron Hawks, who has lived in that neighborhood for more than 30 years.
It was just before 2:30 Saturday morning when deputies responded to a home on Flanders Way for a welfare check.
That’s where they found 64 year-old Susan Clark dead on the living room floor.
“She had been shot with a shotgun. She was wrapped in blankets and deceased on the floor,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
Sheriff Gualtieri says their response came after the department got a call from a person in Illinois saying his friend, 35 year-old John Clark, called him to confess he shot and killed his mother and didn’t want to go to jail.
After finding Susan’s body, officials pinged Clark’s phone, and saw he was still in the area.
But it wasn’t until hours later when they saw Clark driving his mother’s Volkes Wagon near the home while they were investigating his mother’s death.
Sheriff Gualtieri says Clark had a shotgun on his lap.
In a video from a neighboring surveillance system, sheriff’s deputies can be heard shouting at Clark to drop the gun and stop the car.
“He did neither and continued. At one point, as he continued driving very slowly to the west, he took the shotgun from between his legs and pointed toward the passenger side window where the deputies were and at that point the deputies fired,” said Sheriff Gualtieri.
Clark was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he later died from his injuries.
The road remained closed for most of the day as investigators continue to piece together what happened.
“Everybody always says the same thing, ‘Not in my neighborhood, not around here.’ It can happen anywhere. We know that now,” said Hawks.
Sheriff Gualtieri says Clark did not have a criminal history, but his sister told police he did have a history of drug addiction and mental illness.
Sheriff Gualtieri says those issues may have contributed to why he killed his mother, but since both are now dead, he says we may never know the full story.
The deputies involved in the shooting are placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is still ongoing.