Police ID wanted Florida man in Memphis shooting

AP News
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Posted: Nov 12, 2014 4:23 PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A quadruple amputee who fatally shot himself during a traffic stop in Memphis is the same man who was named as a "person of interest" in the deaths of his parents in central Florida, police said Wednesday.

Sean Petrozzino, 30, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head while he was being stopped by police in a Memphis neighborhood for making an illegal U-turn on Monday. Police officers said they heard a "pop" sound as they exited their car and found the driver dead. A semi-automatic pistol was found in the vehicle.

Detectives from the Orange County Sheriff's Office had been looking for Petrozzino since the bodies of Nancy Petrozzino, 64, and Michael Petrozzino, 63, were found inside their Orlando home on Nov. 4. Michael Petrozzino had three gunshot wounds to the abdomen and another three to the head, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office in Orlando said Wednesday, and Nancy Petrozzino was struck three times in the torso.

Deputies went to the home after colleagues at the school where Nancy Petrozzino taught second-grade became concerned when she didn't show up. Michael Petrozzino worked at Walt Disney World.

"I have a teacher who has not reported for work and has not responded to any messages or calls," said the female caller to a dispatcher in a 911 call released Wednesday. "Her husband isn't answering his phone either."

Memphis police said the vehicle Sean Petrozzino was driving was registered to the couple, but the tags did not match the car, which previously had been identified as a 2012 Toyota Camry. The gun found in the car wasn't the murder weapon, which was a high-powered rifle, Orange County authorities said Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear what Petrozzino was doing in Memphis.

Memphis police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said in a news released on Wednesday that investigators from Florida came to Tennessee to help identify the body "due to the fact that the victim is a quadruple amputee and we were unable to confirm through fingerprints."

Sean Petrozzino survived a devastating bacterial infection that left him a quadruple amputee as a teenager. He had two prosthetic legs. A photo of him at a bank ATM on the day his parents were shot shows him without any prosthetics for his hands. The photo was released by the Orange County Sheriff's Office, and an agency spokeswoman said she didn't have information on whether Petrozzino used prosthetics for his hands.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel wrote an article about the Petrozzino family in 2000 after Sean Petrozzino recovered from meningitis, which resulted in the amputation of his hands and feet while he was in high school. The family lived in Pembroke Pines, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale.

It would be difficult, though not impossible, for Sean Petrozzino to fire a gun without using prosthetics, said Doug Pringle, chief operating officer of Prosthetic Consulting Services, near Reno, Nevada.

"It would be unlikely he could get something around the trigger," Pringle said.

A phone number for Sean Petrozzino's wife, Cynthia Horne Petrozzino, wasn't accepting messages. Public records show they had lived in the Orlando area, and most recently in Cobb County, Georgia, which is north west of Atlanta.

In the 2000 article, Michael Petrozzino told the newspaper that he was proud of his son's positive attitude adjusting to his changed world.

"I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me," Sean Petrozzino said in the profile. "As much as I feel bad about what happened, I feel good that my family and friends stood by me."

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Mike Schneider contributed from Orlando.