From 1904-2014, 25 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty in Pinellas County.
Members of county’s law enforcement agencies, as well as local elected officials and the public gathered at the Sheriff’s Administration Building in Largo May 10 to honor them during the annual Fallen Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony.
SEMINOLE - A 59-year-old Pinellas Park man suffered serious injuries when a vehicle struck his bicycle about 1 p.m. May 17 at Park Street and 62nd Avenue in Seminole.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the Major Accident Investigation Team say that Robert Peel was riding his bicycle near the outside edge of the pavement traveling southbound on Park Street just north of 62nd Avenue when his bicycle was struck from behind by a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser being driven by John Ludwig, 60, of Largo.
PINELLAS PARK - A 19-year-old homeless man died at a local hospital May 18 from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head that occurred at a shooting range in Pinellas Park.
According to Pinellas Park police, the shooting occurred about 8:10 p.m. May 17 at Shoot Straight, 4594 Ulmerton Road.
Police say that Luke Prendergast, 19, met an unidentified male on the beach in Treasure Island earlier in the day, and they spent time together target shooting at a gun range in St. Petersburg. About 8 p.m., the two men arrived at Shoot Straight to continue target shooting. A video inside the gun range shows that Prendergast fired a couple of rounds at targets before turning the handgun on himself. The man he was with was shooting at targets down range.
TIERRE VERDE - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the death of a man whose body was found May 18 in Fort De Soto Park, 3500 Pinellas Bay Way South, in unincorporated Tierra Verde.
According to detectives assigned to the Robbery/Homicide Unit the body of Dyrle Burkett, 57, of St. Petersburg was found in the water near the far end of the east beach of the park about 11 a.m. Burkett was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detectives confirmed that Burkett died from unnatural causes. They say that Burkett reportedly made statements about harming himself.
PALM HARBOR - A 15-year-old student at Palm Harbor University High School suffered serious injuries when a vehicle driven by a 17-year-old struck her about 7:25 a.m. Tuesday, May 16 struck her.
Tristen Cecala of Palm Harbor was driving a 2000 Ford F-250 eastbound on Delaware Avenue approaching Palm Harbor University High School, 1900 Omaha St., just before the crash occurred, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
LARGO - Two people died and one person was injured in a three-vehicle crash that occurred about 9:54 p.m. May 12 on U.S. 19 in Largo.
Largo police say that a 1996 Toyota sedan and a 1999 Toyota van were in the emergency lane at the time of the crash, and both drivers were outside the vehicles.
A 2003 Ford Expedition was traveling south in the curb lane and then moved into the emergency lane, striking the sedan, which then struck the van.
Debbie Savanpanyadeth, 45, and Somsack Khamvongsa, 46, were transported to a local hospital where they later died. The driver of the Ford, Cesar Gonzalez-Calderon also was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
PALM HARBOR - A 42-year-old Palm Harbor man suffered critical injuries when his motorcycle was struck by a car about 6:21 p.m. May 13 on East Ridge Road in Palm Harbor.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Brian Mueller was operating a 2006 Harley-Davidson motorcycle traveling east on Alderman Road in the outside lane approaching East Ridge Road just before the crash.
George Giannakoulias, 86, of Palm Harbor was driving a 2006 Chevrolet Malibu traveling north on East Ridge Road approaching Alderman Road. After stopping at a stop sign, the Malibu traveled into the path of the motorcycle, which collided with the car.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives arrested a 38-year-old Clearwater man May 12 on one charge of video voyeurism in connection with a recording of a 16-year-old taking a shower.
Jon B. Flower was booked into the county jail and released on a $10,000 surety bond about 12 hours after his arrest.
Detectives assigned to the Crimes Against Children Unit began their investigation May 10 after the mother of the 16-year-old female victim told them that Flower, who was her live-in boyfriend at the time, had made a video recording of her daughter while she was in the shower at their home on Lakeview Road in Clearwater.
The Clearwater Police Department was joined by the Florida Highway Patrol, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Tarpon Springs Police Department, Largo Police Department and Pinellas Park Police Department in a special traffic enforcement detail on U.S. 19 May 12- May 13.
More than 100 speeding citations were handed out during the detail, which went from about 6:30 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday, according to a media release from Clearwater PD. Ten DUI arrests also were made. Each agency focused on the stretch of U.S. 19 within its own jurisdiction.
In Clearwater, one motorist was cited for going 91 mph in a 55 mph zone. Another motorist was nabbed going north in the southbound lanes of the highway.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives arrested a 56-year-old St. Petersburg man May 11 on charges of robbery and planting a hoax bomb.
Kelly Smith Ford is accused of robbing the NorthStar Bank, 715 Indian Rocks Road in Belleair Bluffs.
According to detectives with the Robbery/Homicide Unit, a man entered the bank about 2:19 p.m. May 8, walked up to the teller, and demanded money. He was given an undisclosed amount of cash.
Before leaving the bank, he reportedly said that he had “left something for you.” Employees reported that the suspect had left a small bag by the front door. The bank was evacuated and the Tampa police bomb squad responded. No destructive device was found in the bag.
OLDSMAR - Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two New Port Richey residents May 11 for grand theft in connection with the theft of exotic reptiles from a pet store in Oldsmar.
Nicole Renee Odierno, 28, and Jeremy Daniel Lawson, 19, were booked into the county jail on one charge each of grand theft. Bail was set at $2,000. Odierno was released on bail May 12.
According to deputies, a male and female suspect entered the Herp Hobby Shop, 103 Douglas Ave. in Oldsmar about 1:23 p.m. May 10. While in the store, the male suspect distracted the owner, Andrew Potts, 56, of Oldsmar. While Potts was being distracted, the female suspect stole two 12-inch Aztec boa constrictor snakes and two albino tortoises, valued at about $900.
CLEARWATER - Clearwater police are reporting multiple thefts of yard and service workers’ vehicles occurring in the past few weeks in Clearwater and throughout Pinellas County.
These vehicles are often left unsecured while workers do yard, maintenance or perform other services at various residences. Police say the burglaries are occurring during the day.
Workers and residents are urged to lock their vehicles, remove the keys and secure valuables.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to contact the Clearwater Police Department, using the non-emergency phone number, 727-562-4242, or use the TIP 411 system. Visit www.ClearwaterPolice.com for more information. Police add that if you are having an emergency, call 911.
SAFETY HARBOR - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives charged a 20-year-old Safety Harbor man with sexual battery May 9.
Eric Rashaad Clark is being held in the county jail on bail of $100,000.
Detectives with the Crimes Against Children Unit began an investigation April 28, after the 14-year old victim told an adult what had happened to her.
Detectives say the victim told the adult she was at a friend's house in Safety Harbor, where she fell asleep in a chair. When she woke up, Clark, was allegedly in the act of having inappropriate sexual contact with her. The victim said she attempted to resist Clark, but was unsuccessful.
Pinellas County Utilities and the Sheriff’s Office are warning residents about a scam targeting citizens that involves people going door-to-door posing as employees of utilities department.
Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office say they are investigating the cases involving two men posing as employees of a water department informing victims of a water leak in their homes. Upon entry, one suspect distracts the residents while the other suspects steals steals various jewelry and other valuables.
TARPON SPRINGS - The Tarpon Springs Police Department and the Pinellas Sheriff's Office Countywide Narcotics Task Force conducted a joint operation resulting in criminal drug charges on at least 20 people.
The six-month undercover operation involved the sale of narcotics in the city of Tarpon Springs. The investigation revealed that the majority of the undercover deals had a connection to the Sunbay Motel at 57 W. Tarpon Ave., according to a media release from Tarpon Springs police.
Pinellas County deputies, in conjunction with police from Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Largo, Kenneth City, St. Petersburg, as well as the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct a DUI Wolf Pack operation, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, May 5, and continuing until 5 a.m. Saturday, May 6.
Law enforcement will maintain a proactive profile on the highly traveled roadways of the county.
The operation is part of the Sheriff's on-going commitment to reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage associated with traffic crashes related to impaired driving. The goal of the Wolf Pack is to educate people and create public awareness about the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and any chemical or controlled substances.
PALM HARBOR - Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Clearwater woman May 2 on two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of child neglect without causing great harm.
Pinellas deputies responded to the parking lot of a business at 35080 U.S. Highway 19 North, in Palm Harbor, at approximately 12:14 p.m. May 02, regarding a report of a person down.
When deputies arrived, they found 36-year-old Tiffany Ann Brown, unresponsive in the back seat of her vehicle with a 3-year-old child partially belted in the front seat. Deputies say the door on the child's side of the vehicle was open and the child was screaming.
CLEARWATER - Clearwater Police have a suspect in custody in connection with a man who stole items from T.J. Maxx, 2541 Countryside Blvd., on Monday, May 1.
Soon after police put out a media release asking for the public's help to identify the suspect, someone who had seen the image on Facebook called police after seeing him on Belcher Road. Police took him into custody and he was reportedly enroute to the Pinellas County Jail as of 2:41 p.m. May 2. Police noted that he was still wearing the same shirt and hat he was wearing when the crime took place.