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Brevard officer labels shooting as self-defense

Originally ran here as:
"Brevard officer labels shooting as self-defense"
by Amy C. Rippel, Staff Writer
Orlando Sentinel
April 10, 2002

TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA -- What started as a heated argument about a bright light ended Saturday night with one man dead and another waiting for law enforcement to decide whether he will be charged in the shooting.

Brevard County Sheriff's Office investigators are saying the shooting death of Jimmy Lee Clark of Mims was self-defense. But the decision whether to file charges against Sean Ingrassellino of Orlando won't be made until the case is forwarded to the State Attorney's Office in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Clark's family is questioning what happened to the 47-year-old father of three.

It was a chilly night at the remote waterfront park in Brevard County when the shouting match erupted shortly before 10 p.m. between Clark, who was on an airboat, and Ingrassellino, who was camping with six other family members at Hatbill Park. Clark was shot once in the head. "All the evidence points to [self defense]," said Brevard County homicide agent Allie Roberts. "He was irate. He was screaming, and the people had no idea what he was talking about," Roberts said about Clark.

Witnesses told investigators that about 9:40 p.m. Clark was shouting obscenities and accusing Ingrassellino's family of shining a light on him. Ingrassellino, 30, told Clark several times he didn't know what he was talking about. But the argument continued.

As Clark stepped out of his airboat and approached the family with his hands behind his back, Ingrassellino retrieved a rifle from a tent and fired at Clark once, hitting him in the forehead, investigators said. Ingrassellino could not be reached for comment.

Roberts said investigators found a revolver under Clark's body and it "was believed to be in his hand" behind his back. The gun holster was in the airboat, Roberts said.

Clark's wife, Lori, who said she was not present during the argument or shooting, said her husband never pulled his weapon. Clark's 30-year-old son, who saw his dad's body in the park after the shooting, said he thinks the gun was still tucked in the back of his dad's pants.

"How can it be self-defense when my husband had no weapon in his hand?" Lori Clark said. "He never pulled a gun on anyone."

Amy C. Rippel can be reached at 407-420-5736.

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