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Clearwater police: Paranoid man fired rifle, killing pregnant woman

CLEARWATER -- Javier and Elizabeth Rosado were brainstorming baby names last weekend. She was 13 weeks pregnant. The couple didn't know if their child would be a boy or a girl.

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Josh Solomon
, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer, Tampa Bay Times

CLEARWATER -- Javier and Elizabeth Rosado were brainstorming baby names last weekend. She was 13 weeks pregnant. The couple didn't know if their child would be a boy or a girl.

It's a question that, for Javier Rosado, will forever go unanswered.

His wife was shot and killed by a "high-powered rifle" fired into the family car Sunday, according to Clearwater police.

The 30-year-old mother was struck in the head. She was riding with her husband, brother and 10-year-old stepdaughter, headed home from church that evening.

Police revealed nothing about the investigation until five days later. They announced Friday the arrest of Charles Groucho Allen Jr., 40, on two counts of first-degree murder, one for the mother and the other for her fetus.

Allen has been in state prison six times, records show. His last stint was six years served for drug charges. He was released in March.

Javier Rosado, 34, stood alongside Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter as the arrest was announced at a news conference. Afterward, the husband said he was still overwhelmed by the loss of his wife.

"This is too much right now," he said. "It's nice to have closure. But it doesn't make it feel better."

The police chief described the incident as a random act committed by a man overtaken by a drug-induced paranoia.

The Rosados had picked up her younger brother from St. Cecelia Catholic Church and were driving him home. Javier Rosado was driving, and Elizabeth sat in the passenger seat. The brother and Javier Rosado's 10-year-old daughter sat in the back of the red Nissan Sentra.

They drove down Woodlawn Street, approaching the intersection at Scranton Avenue, when police said a white 2007 Buick Lucerne pulled out from a house in front of the Nissan. Both cars turned south on Scranton.

It was about 8:20 p.m. when the Buick slowed while approaching a speed bump. Javier Rosado thought the car was stopping to let someone out, the chief said, so he drove around the Buick.

Slaughter called it "a very natural, normal reaction for any reasonable person to do."

As the family drove past the Buick, police said Allen fired the rifle from the back seat, striking Elizabeth Rosado in the head.

Javier Rosado said he knew immediately that his wife had been shot. Rosado told his brother-in-law to keep his daughter's head down in case more bullets were fired into the car -- but also so she wouldn't see what had happened to Elizabeth. He drove them to a safe place before calling for help.

"I had no idea what was about to happen or even what happened during the first few seconds, so my main concern was getting the family to safety," Javier Rosado said. "I knew we were under some sort of attack."

The 10-year-old saw what had happened when she got out of the car.

Slaughter described the wound to reporters: "The injury was fatal and graphic, and very difficult, I'm sure, for the family to see."

Allen was under the influence of drugs, the chief said, and felt threatened when the Nissan drove by: "And for some illegitimate reason came to the conclusion that he thought he was being robbed."

Detectives were still looking for the weapon Friday, which the chief would only describe as "a high-powered rifle." He asked anyone who has seen Allen with a gun to contact Clearwater police.

Slaughter said many people underestimate how deadly rifles can be. They may not realize such firearms can pierce vehicles and even bullet-resistant vests. The fact that Elizabeth Rosado was the only person in the Nissan who was hit, the chief said, was a blessing.

"I don't want to disrespect Javier's family by saying they were fortunate," Slaughter said, "but it could have been worse."

The Buick was on its way to the home of Allen's daughter, who lived in the area. The chief said the other people inside the Buick, who were not identified by police, were cooperating with the investigation.

Shortly after the shooting, detectives began to zero in on Allen, who police believe had returned to drug dealing since his release from prison.

Police staked out Allen's workplace, a dry cleaner, on Friday until he arrived at work in the same white Buick. Slaughter said when Allen realized police had surrounded him, he tried to duck down and hide by the floorboard.

The chief said Allen was fortunate that police did not shoot him as he tried to conceal himself. Officers did not find a gun in the vehicle.

Slaughter did not say what Allen told police, but did say that he has not confessed to the shooting.

Offenders convicted of first-degree murder face two outcomes: life in prison or the death penalty. Said Slaughter: "Incarceration for the rest of his life, or something even worse, makes sense."

This isn't the first time Javier Rosado has lost a loved one during the holidays.

"I experienced something similar when my mother passed away shortly before Thanksgiving a couple years ago," he said. "So it (will be) sort of the same feeling as having an empty place for those celebrations."

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or Follow @ByJoshSolomon.

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