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Convict sought in fatal shooting of 2 Tampa police

“We know who he is and we’re going to find him,’’ Police Chief Jane Castor said of suspect Dontae Rashawn Morris. “We know who he is and we’re going to find him,’’ Police Chief Jane Castor said of suspect Dontae Rashawn Morris. (Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)
Associated Press / June 30, 2010

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TAMPA — Police were searching yesterday for a convict charged with fatally shooting two Tampa police officers during an early-morning traffic stop of a car that didn’t have a visible license plate.

Officer David Curtis pulled over the red Toyota Camry around 2:15 a.m. yesterday and called for backup after a background check revealed the male passenger in the car was wanted on a misdemeanor charge for writing a worthless check.

The two officers approached the passenger side of the vehicle and six minutes later a witness called 911 to report they had been shot.

Curtis and Officer Jeffrey Kocab, both 31, were bot pronounced dead at an area hospital.

“Horrible,’’ said Tampa police Officer Jeremy Larson, a friend of Curtis and one of the first on the scene yesterday morning. “The crime scene was horrible.’’

The woman who police believe was driving the car, 22-year-old Cortnee Nicole Brantly, was taken into custody yesterday afternoon for questioning, but she was not arrested.

Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, was still being sought by police, but was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and a single count of felony possession of a firearm.

Police Chief Jane Castor said, “We know who he is, and we’re going to find him.’’

Morris was released from prison in April after serving two years for cocaine possession and sales. He also served about nine months on other cocaine possession charges in 2004, according to prison records.

The St. Petersburg Times reported that in 2006, Morris was found not guilty of attempted first-degree murder.

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