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Deputies fatally shoot burglary suspect in West Pensacola

9:21 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
Brownsville area resident Joshua Shively, 20, looks at a pool of blood remaining at the scene from Sunday night's fatal shooting. Shively witnessed the deputy involved shooting from his front yard. The shooting happened about 10:30 p.m. after deputies responded to a burglary in progress call at a self-storage business on Mobile Highway. / Tony Giberson/
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WEST PENSACOLA, Fla. ( -- For the first time in his life, 20-year-old Joshua Shively saw someone shot and killed Sunday night.

And it happened right on his street.

Shively lives in the 800 block of Dominquez Street in West Pensacola, where a deputy-involved shooting left one man dead Sunday night.

Deputies responded to a burglary-in-progress call at a self-storage business in the area about 10:30 p.m., according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.

Once on scene, deputies encountered a suspect and shots were fired, according to the Sheriff's Office. The suspect was hit an unknown number of times and died at the scene.

The suspect was identified this afternoon as 49-year-old Paul Thayer of Pensacola.

The shooting is still under investigation and few official details have been released, but Shively said he heard some yelling outside his duplex Sunday night and came outside to investigate.

He said he saw a man who appeared to be intoxicated crouching outside the fence of the storage facility across the street. The man was about 150 feet down the street from Shively's yard.

"And he was just mumbling stuff and shaking the fence, kind of crying in like a drunk tone," Shively said. "I was about to go over there, but I stood there about a minute and watched him."

But before he could walk over to check on the man, Shively said he saw two deputy cruisers speed around the corner from Mobile Highway and park near the suspect. He said there was a standoff between the man and at least four deputies.

"They all had their guns, and they're all yelling stuff," Shively said. "They were yelling stuff out the window of their cop cars like 'Get on the ground, put the gun down.' "

Shively said he then witnessed the suspect point a gun at the deputies and open fire.

"He got maybe one shot off, and all the cops just unloaded," Shively said. "After I heard that loud shot, then I heard all their guns go off. I could distinguish the difference in sounds."

Shively said the suspect immediately fell to the ground, and he saw a deputy get ill after the suspect was killed.

"I was shaken for like 30 minutes after that," Shively said. "I've never seen anybody get shot in my life."

The two deputies who fired shots were identified on Monday as Deputy Sheriff Wayne Wright and Deputy 1st Class Mark Smith, both assigned to the Patrol Division.

Wright has been an Escambia Sheriff's deputy since 2007, and Smith has been a deputy since 2005.

They are currently on paid administrative leave, which Sheriff's Office spokesman Matt Baxter said is standard practice with any deputy-involved shooting that results in an injury or death.

The incident is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Baxter said the FDLE investigation could take several months, but the deputies will be able to return to work in the meantime once they receive medical clearance.

Although the neighborhood was quiet Monday morning, evidence of the shooting could still be seen. A pool of blood stained the leaves and grass next to the street deep red, and bullet holes were visible in a nearby tree.

Liquor bottles, soiled diapers and trash littered the side of the street.

Residents on Dominquez Street said they typically don't feel safe in the neighborhood, but none of them recalled anyone being killed before.

"It's kind of a rough neighborhood after it gets dark," said Austin Mayes, 20, Shively's roommate.

Mayes described the sound of the shots as something like firecrackers.

"I went out there to the end of the driveway and you could just see the body laying in the ditch," Mayes said. "And you could smell the death in the air."

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Kaycee Lagarde, Pensacola News Journal

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