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[UPDATE] Suspect in Auto Xperts Confrontation Found Guilty

By: Julie Montanaro; Eyewitness News Email
By: Julie Montanaro; Eyewitness News Email

Update 6-6-2012- 11:38pm

Michael Crockett was sentenced to one year in jail with credit for two days served.

In October of 2010, the former correctional officer interfered in an argument between his girlfriend and her ex-boyfriend at Auto Xperts in Tallahassee.

He pulled out a gun and fired. Bullets grazed Josh Gamble, the ex-boyfriend.

Crockett was charged with aggravated assault but the jury instead found him guilty the lesser included offense of improper exhibition of a weapon.

Then they found him guilty of three other misdemeanors which include discharged a weapon in public. Before the judge handed down a sentence, Crockett addressed the court.

"I've always tried to do the right thing and in hindsight I realize I did have a lapse in judgment and I apologize to the court for that and I would like to apologize to the individuals who were affected by it, " said Crockett.

The judge then sentenced him to a year in county jail with two days credit for time served. This is the maximum sentence the judge said he could impose for the first degree misdemeanor convictions the jury handed down.

Update 6-6-2012 --

Michael Crockett was found guilty on four misdemeanor counts involving an aggravated assault for a gun point confrontation at Auto Xperts back in 2010.

Crockett was not found guilty of aggravated assault with a firearm. The jury actually found him guilty of lesser misdemeanors Improper Exhibition of a Firearm and Discharging a Firearm in Public.

The jury took about an hour to deliberate before coming to verdict.. Crockett's has been sentenced to one year behind bars with credit for serving two days.

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UPDATED 6.6.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A former correctional officer on trial for an auto shop shooting claims he was standing his ground that day.

Michael Crockett is accused of pulling a gun on an employee who happened to be his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend.

Michael Crockett - who his friends call Chris - is on trial for aggravated assault. He's accused of intervening in an argument between his girlfriend and her former boyfriend Josh Gamble.

"I mean he was in arm's reach. When his arm stuck out, the gun was probably a foot away from my face," Gamble testified.

"What did you say?"

"I looked at him and told him if he was man enough to shoot me," Gamble said.

This was the scene at Auto Xperts that day in October 2010. It wasn't Gamble who came out on the stretcher. It was Michael Crockett.

Fellow employees wrestled Crockett to the ground and even beat him with a shovel to get the gun away. In the process, witnesses testified, a half dozen shots or more were fired.

"I had where a bullet grazed the back of my knee on my right leg and there was a bullet hole through my left pants leg and ankle," he said.

Yet Crockett's attorneys say Gamble and the owner of the shop, Chris Hackney, were angry because Shanda Culp would not leave. He claims they shoved Culp and she screamed out for Crockett to help.

"Mr. Crockett acted instinctively. He's a correctional officer. He's trained with that firearm. He has a conceal carry permit. He couldn't see his girlfriend anymore who was being attacked by these two men and he runs in and he pulls his firearm points it at him and says let her go," defense attorney Kevin Alvarez told the jury.

The defense suggested on cross examination that Gamble's story had changed. He quoted a statement made to detectives the day of the shooting in which Gamble told them he and the shop owner (who is also Gamble's uncle) pushed Culp that day.

They both denied that on the witness stand.

Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.

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June 5, 2012 - Noon -

A former corrections officer is on trial in Tallahassee for an auto shop shooting.

The jury will have to decide if it was aggravated assault or if Michael Crockett was standing his ground.

Eyewitness News reporter Julie Montanaro is at the Leon County Courthouse to cover the trial.

Josh Gamble is on the stand right now.

He described how Michael Crockett pointed a gun at him at Auto Xperts in October 2010.

Gamble said he was arguing with Crockett's girlfriend over a car when she started screaming Crockett's name and he came running with a gun in his hand.

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June 5, 2012 10am

Auto Xperts owner Chris Hackney is on the stand.

He says he told Shanda Culp she was disrupting business. He says he told Culp to leave the shop and settle the dispute after hours. He says she refused to leave and started screaming.

"She was out of control," he said. "She was just in a rage."

Hackney said a man he had never seen before ran in with a gun pointed at him and employee Josh Gamble.

Another employee tackled Crockett and that's when the shooting started, he said.

"I was feeling we were in danger. I had a gun within two feet of me. I was definitely afraid," Hackney said.

Hackney said they punched Crockett and ultimately beat him with a shovel until they got the gun away from him.

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June 5, 2012 9:30am by Julie Montanaro

Prosecutors say an argument over a Mustang escalated into a gun fight at Auto Xperts.

Prosecutor Christie Utt says Shanda Culp and employee Josh Gamble were arguing over a car they had purchased together when the two dated years earlier. Utt claims Culp refused repeated requests from the owner to leave the shop.

Utt claims Culp started screaming and Crockett came running with a gun pointed at them. Another employee started to tackle Crockett and Crockett started firing. The employees ultimately beat Crockett with a shovel and took the gun away.

Yet defense attorneys claim Gamble hit Culp, the owner wrestled with her and the men dragged her to the back of the shop. Defense attorney Kevin Alvarez says Crockett saw that confrontation and then lost sight of Culp. Alvarez says Crockett acted instinctively as a corrections officer and went to protect his girlfriend.

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June 5, 2012 9am Julie Montanaro

Michael Crockett is poised to stand trial for aggravated assault for a gun point confrontation at Auto Xperts back in 2010.

Crockett's attorney plans to argue stand your ground.

The judge is hearing some last minute motions regarding the admissibility of evidence, including the relevance of Crockett and his girlfriend having a child in the car during the fight.

The original story can be read below
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UPDATED 10-27 By Candace Sweat at 7:00pm

Michael Crockett was fired by the Florida Department of Corrections today and a spokesperson from the department says he will never be able to work for them again.

Chris Hackney, the owner of Auto Xperts says today trying to get back to business as usual after a violent encounter with a man that could have left him and several of his employees dead.

But now he's dealing with news that the man responsible for the shooting is out on a 10,000 dollar bond.

"He's back on the streets now. Do we have to worry about him coming back and retaliating against us? So I'm definitely outraged about it," said Hackney.

Hackney and several of his employees tackled Michael Crockett after they say Crockett walked into the shop Tuesday morning aiming a gun at one of the mechanics in the wake of an argument over a car.

Ultimately, Crockett left on a stretcher and was later charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Word spread fast that Crockett was a correctional officer at the Calhoun Correctional Institute and now a spokesperson from the Florida Department of Corrections says they're acting a swiftly as possible to atone for his actions.

"What he did was disgraceful to his profession, to our professional dedicated, hardworking correctional officers who put their lives on the line. He's absolutely a disgrace," said Gretl Plessinger with the Florida Department of Corrections.

Hackney said, "That's very scary. Someone that's being paid to protect us and keep prisoners detained and in prison and he's out committing crimes himself."

Plessinger says this is not the first time Crockett has had trouble on the job. He was disciplined back in 2008 and 2010 for excessive absenteeism.

And as if that's not enough, several employees at Auto Xperts are telling WCTV that the girlfriends two-year-old son was in the car while the whole thing took place.
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UPDATED 10-27 By at 1:00pm

Michael Crockett was released on bail on October 27. Bond was set for $10,000.

Stay with WCTV for details.

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UPDATED 10-27 By at 10:30am

Michael Crockett is still in jail. Crockett had a first appearance in court on October 27 at 8:30am where bond was set for $10,000.

Stay with WCTV for details.

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UPDATED 10-26 By Candace Sweat at 7:00pm

This is truly a heroic story of thinking and acting quickly. A man comes into the Auto Experts shop here on Monroe street aiming a gun at one of the mechanics. Fellow employees tackle that man, and save the day.

When Josh Gamble came to work this morning, he says he would have never guessed that by noon he would have a bullet wound to the back of his leg. Still, he says he's thankful it was a bullet to leg rather than the head.

"I'm lucky to be alive, for one," said Gamble.

Gamble says it all began around 10:30 Tuesday morning when his ex-girlfriend came to his job at Auto Xperts at 3846 North Monroe Street. They began arguing over a car that was purchased when the two were together. He says she was told to leave the shop.

That's when he says she came back with her boyfriend, 25-year-old Michael Crockett, who had a gun.

"He ran in with a firearm, pointed it at my face," said Gamble.

Fellow Employees saw that Gamble was in danger and acted quickly.

"One of my other employees grabbed the guy from behind and we wrestled for the gun and he basically fired off about 8 shots and we were able to get the gun from him and subdue him until the police officers got here," said shop owner, Chris Hackney.

Gamble said, "A gun being pointed at my head and my chest, there's no telling what he was thinking. And if he fires off rounds with all of us on him he could have done it just as easily in my face."

Ultimately, Crockett, the man who came to the shop with intentions of harming someone, is the one left the scene on a stretcher badly beat up.

Hackney and other employees had bloody clothes and injuries as a result of the struggle but say saving an employees life is worth it.

A story like this one could have very easily turned out tragic.

Crockett has been arrested and charged with 3 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
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*** UPDATE 10-26-2010 5:25 PM ***
The Leon County Sheriff's Office has released a press release in regards to the argument that led to a shooting on North Monroe. Click on the press release above to read the official LCSO version.

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Tallahassee, Florida --

A man is taken to the hospital after a shooting at a local car repair shop.

LCSO and Tallahassee Police are still here at the scene at 3846 North Monroe.

A man was taken away in an ambulance. Witnesses say around 10:20 this morning (Oct. 26), a suspect entered the Auto Xperts store with a gun. They say he tried to shoot one of the employees and that's when several other employees wrestled him to the ground and there was a struggle. Employees say the man taken away in the ambulance was the suspect who was injured in the fight.

At this point, authorities are not releasing any other information.

WCTV was first on the scene and has exclusive pictures of the scene attached to the story. Stay with WCTV for details.


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