TAMPA — A Florida man who once killed a stranger in a gas station and who was stopped last month hauling 36 guns and 4,629 rounds of ammunition has a "gentle spirit," a church elder says, and friends back that up.
David Harris Dunaway, 58, isn't allowed to own firearms because he was declared insane after shooting a trucker near Wildwood on July 8, 1992. Leonard Brower of Live Oak died after leaving his truck to buy a map inside a gas station and exchanging words with Dunaway.
The Hawthorne man received psychiatric care for several years.
Then, last summer, federal agents got a tip that he was selling guns. A grand jury charged him Dec. 18 with illegally having one pistol. But when arrested Dec. 28 east of Gainesville, he was in a van packed with guns. Dunaway said he planned to sell them at a flea market, a sheriff's report stated.
In the days since, four people have submitted character references for Dunaway to U.S. District Court in Tampa through his attorney, Michael P. Maddux.
One came from Trey Arnett, an elder at Central Christian Church in Ocala who said Dunaway had attended since 2003. He called Dunaway a "man of good character with a gentle spirit."
Inga Glaspey of Gainesville said that she knows Dunaway and his wife through Girl Scouts — both families have daughters — and that he volunteers his time at events, sometimes serving as photographer. She called him "honest" and "caring."
"I am a mother of four and my children have had sleepovers at the Dunaway home and I never felt concerned of their well-being while in his care," she wrote.
Brian Dyals of Ocala said he was shocked to learn of Dunaway's current troubles and more shocked to learn of his past.
"People do and can change, and the man I have interacted with seems nothing like who he is being made out to be at this time," Dyals wrote.
Angela Hathcock, identifying herself as Dunaway's stepdaughter, said he has always been honest with her and her brother, even about his past.
"We all have a past and we all have things that we regret," she wrote. "My DAD is no exception to that rule, but despite his past he has managed to teach my siblings and me how to be good, honest people."
Patty Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3382.