ST. PETERSBURG — Deputy Marvin Glover was supposed to be finishing a 30-plus-year career in law enforcement as a courthouse bailiff. He had broken up bar fights, stormed into crack houses and brawled with dealers and henchmen who fought back.
Now he guarded the entrance to the St. Petersburg Judicial Building — a relatively peaceful post until May 7, 2008.
That day, Deputy Glover and another deputy, B.J. Lyons, asked Glen Powell, 30, to remove his backpack and run it through a scanner.
Instead, Powell, a former Eagle Scout and Air Force veteran, pulled a semiautomatic handgun from the backpack and began shooting.
The deputies returned fire with 11 shots in 12 seconds, killing Powell.
Authorities found 79 rounds of ammunition in Powell's backpack, plus a gas mask and a large knife. He had gotten off just two shots, one of which grazed Lyons.
Though his actions helped avert a possible massacre, Deputy Glover was troubled by having to take a life.
"He was very distraught," said Loretta Glover, his wife.
For their actions, the deputies were named Law Enforcement Officers of the Year in 2009.
Deputy Glover, a weight-lifting enthusiast who had previously served 27 years with the St. Petersburg Police Department, retired from the Sheriff's Office in 2010. He died Monday at St. Anthony's Hospital of leukemia. He was 62.
"I think Deputy Glover and Deputy Lyons were obviously instrumental in preventing a major catastrophe in the court complex," said former Sheriff Jim Coats, who presented the men with the 2009 award. "We don't know for sure, but based on the way this individual armed suspect tried to breach security, he intended to do serious harm to folks in the court complex."
Born in Tampa, Marvin Glover played football at Blake High. He attended Miles College in Fairfield, Ala., and Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., before joining the St. Petersburg Police Department in the mid 1970s.
Other officers dubbed him "Marvelous," after boxer Marvin Hagler.
"His biceps were as big as my thighs," said retired St. Petersburg police Officer Kenneth Kokotek, 59. "I've seen Marvin pick up 200- and 300-pound men by himself."
Yapping Yorkies were another story.
"As big as he was and as mild-mannered as he was, he was afraid of small dogs," Kokotek said.
As a detective and member of the department's Green Team in the 1980s and 1990s, Deputy Glover took on drug suppliers, including Ronald "Romeo" Mathis, whose round-the-clock business was bringing in $300,000 a week. Mathis was arrested in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison three years later.
After a divorce or two with no children, Deputy Glover married Loretta in 2002, around the same time he joined the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. He quickly filled a walk-in closet with suits and dress shoes.
"I said, 'You wear a uniform, where would you wear all these clothes?' " his wife said.
Deputy Glover also nurtured dozens of plants in his back yard, his silver 2003 Porsche Carerra, a collection of antique watches and Topaz, a 20-year-old Blue Front Amazon parrot fond of asking, "What you doing?"
He worked as a bailiff despite leukemia diagnosed in 2001. He was hospitalized for a month in 2006 with a related lung infection, his wife said. He bounced back from the shooting with counseling provided by the department and by staying busy.
"Marvin was a member of our agency for 10 years," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Wednesday. "He saved lives that day at the St. Petersburg courthouse by putting himself in the line of fire, and stopped a would-be killer. It was a selfless and courageous act."
Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.