TARPON SPRINGS — When Tarpon Springs Police Officer Charles Kondek was shot and killed in the line of duty downtown near Craig Park in December 2014, the community was rocked by the tragedy.

In May 2017, a 25-year-old man was shot and killed by an off-duty Tarpon Springs Police officer near Tarpon and Safford avenues during a car show that was being held downtown.

Last week, another deadly shooting stunned the downtown district, after a 17-year-old wielding what was later determined to be an airsoft rifle was shot and killed by Tarpon Springs officers Oct. 16, following a confrontation near the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce.

According to the police report, the department received a call at 9:27 p.m. reporting “a white male wearing black clothing walking down the street armed with possibly an AK (military) style rifle, pointing it at everyone.” The report states that the subject pointed the rifle at responding officers, who took cover behind vehicles. Two officers fired 12 rounds, seven from a patrol rifle and five from an agency handgun, according to the report.

After the subject was down, officers immediately administered first aid and secured the scene, and the subject was then transported to the trauma center at Bayonet Point Hospital in Hudson, where he was treated and pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. TSPD revealed the victim was 17-year-old Alexander King, an 11th-grader at Tarpon Springs High School who reportedly had “a long history of interactions” with law enforcement, including 11 with the TSPD and 11 with other area agencies, including two felony arrests.

During a news conference Oct. 18, Police Chief Jeffrey Young said they learned later that King was holding an airsoft rifle, a realistic looking gun that fires plastic pellets, and he was a teenaged Tarpon High student.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Alex King,” Young said.

King’s shooting, which was witnessed by several motorists and pedestrians based on social media accounts, including a grainy yet disturbing bystander video, has affected many segments of town, including the family and friends of the victim, the officers involved and the witnesses. City officials, including Chief Young and Vice Mayor Jacob Karr, declined to comment on the incident because the case is currently being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, while chamber president and chief executive Jean Hungiville said it wasn’t her place to speak for the whole community.

“I can’t really say how it’s affected the community because I don’t represent the community,” Hungiville said while pointing to bullet holes in the building’s exterior wall. “I represent the business owners.”

One person who is qualified to answer questions about communitywide trauma is Robin Saenger.

The former city commissioner, who earlier this year declared her intention to run for mayor in March, is the founder of Peace 4 Tarpon, a nonprofit that “works to create a peaceful and thriving Tarpon Springs through becoming a Trauma-Informed and Resilient Community,” according to its website.

When asked how Tarpon can cope with the latest tragedy, Saenger first noted she is not an expert on trauma but has studied the field extensively and collaborated with experts. “It’s an extremely difficult situation. It’s painful, and it’s easy to jump to conclusions or decide why things happened the way they did or how they could’ve been different. But we really have to step back and look at the bigger picture.”

What that entails, according to Saenger, is “not to point fingers or pass judgment but to view this with compassion for all parties involved. It had to have been extremely difficult for everyone — his family, his friends, his classmates, everyone whose lives he touched, and for the officers involved in the shooting, the other officers who witnessed the shooting, the people who were called to the scene, the people in the cars going by. Some people might be traumatized by hearing this story who had nothing to do with anyone involved. It affects every single person, and it ripples through the fabric of the entire community, and we have to, as a trauma-informed community and a caring community, feel the utmost compassion and sorrow that this happened for everybody involved.”

As for how the community can begin the healing process, Saenger said that part is up to the individual.

“It depends on how someone processes trauma,” she said. “Some people might want to go talk to someone, or do art therapy or see a counselor, some might go to a minister or a rabbi or person of faith. Different people seek different responses and it’s a very personal, intimate response and I would just guide people and let them know there’s resources in this community to help them through this, including experts and organizations and each other. We’re supposed to be here for each other, offering a word a support, listening to someone going through a struggle, being present for them … because this doesn’t just take place and it’s done. This is going to affect this young man’s family and this community into the future, and unless we heal, we’ll always carry it with us. But I think it’s important for everyone to remember there’s no judgment on this. And that’s the hardest part.”