TREASURE ISLAND — Two men on the run from law enforcement in North Carolina were found hiding in Treasure Island — armed with an AR-15, a machete and a pipe bomb, deputies said — leading to a standoff with a SWAT team that ended early Sunday morning.
On Aug. 11, deputies in North Carolina tried to pull over a 2001 Toyota Tundra registered to Donald "Alfred" Billings, 50, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Billings and his passenger, 26-year-old Alton Smoot, drove away from the traffic stop and deputies pursued them. According to Alleghany County, N.C., deputies, Billings and Smoot shot at them from the truck with a handgun and an AR-15 rifle. The deputies called off the pursuit.
Six days later, authorities in Pinellas heard that an ex-girlfriend of Billings lived on the 9900 block of Gulf Boulevard in Treasure Island. Deputies conducted surveillance near the home of the woman, Tiffany McCord, 34, and found Smoot. He was arrested on Saturday.
But Billings, who served prison time in North Carolina in 2003 and 2004 on a drug conviction, was hiding out in McCord’s apartment, according to the Sheriff’s Office. They learned he was armed with the AR-15, a machete and a pipe bomb. And, the agency reported, Billings told witnesses he wouldn’t go back to prison, and he would shoot it out with police before shooting himself.
Pinellas’ SWAT team tried unsuccessfully to contact Billings Saturday night. Deputies tried to use tear gas to force him to come outside before setting off flash bangs.
A fire broke out, and the fire department had to extinguish the flames before deputies could enter the home.
They found Billings lying on the floor, alive but severely burned, with two AR-15 magazines on him, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
Authorities took him to Tampa General Hospital.
"These guys are bad people, and they were engaged in activity where they were willing to shoot it out with a cop," Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Sunday.
Billings and Smoot both face charges of attempted first degree murder on law enforcement and felony conspiracy to commit first degree murder on law enforcement. In addition, Billings was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, and Smoot was charged with aggravated assault with a gun and fleeing law enforcement.
Contact Langston Taylor at 727-893-8659 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @langstonitaylor.