Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Fomer state trooper, Pasco and Pinellas Sheriff's captain Carl McMullen dies at 87

SPRING HILL — He was a scion of Pinellas County's oldest family. The McMullens owned hundreds of acres for their cattle, started banks and medical practices and held legislative offices.

Carl McMullen inherited his family's penchant for ranching and brought up his children to compete in rodeos.

But mostly he was a cop.

Over 43 years, mostly with the Pinellas and Pasco County sheriff's offices, Mr. McMullen cultivated a reputation as a tough lawman. He trained bloodhounds that caught criminals, chased fleeing robbers and was assigned to many important task forces.

He ran for sheriff and lost, got promoted and fired, switched agencies and occasionally tried to leave law enforcement.

But he always returned.

Mr. McMullen, a retired sheriff's captain in Pinellas and Pasco counties, died April 11. He was 87.

"He was a legend in his own time, that's a fact," said Don Forehand, who is president of the Largo Historical Society and grew up with Mr. McMullen. "He would take on the meanest, baddest and biggest in the county and whip them. I mean it."

Indeed, Mr. McMullen was not one to back away from a fight. In 1947, he arrested a man who had just knocked him to the ground with the handcuffs Mr. McMullen was applying. In 1965, he ran down two men at 90 mph who had just held up a grocery store, pulled up alongside their car and shot the driver in the shoulder.

He was equally fearless, or brazen, during a 1980 Pasco sheriff's election campaign when he accused the incumbent — his former boss — of stealing.

Carl Ramage McMullen was born in Largo in 1925. His great-grandfather, Daniel McMullen, was one of seven brothers who moved to the area by the 1850s. Two returned to Georgia; five settled here. "You can't go far in Pinellas County and not find somebody that's kin to one of those five brothers," said Forehand, 75.

Mr. McMullen enlisted in the Army a week after graduating from Largo High, joining the 182nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper during World War II. He joined the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in 1946.

He left the Sheriff's Office for a five-year stint in the Florida Highway Patrol, returning in 1958. He was promoted to sergeant two years later; to lieutenant in 1963 and captain in 1965.

He raised and trained Spotlight, a 65-pound bloodhound, to sniff out his children as they hid. The dog soon graduated to fugitives.

"I wouldn't want to guess how many times he's been used or how many people he's caught," Mr. McMullen said in 1968. "It must be hundreds."

He spent as much time as he could on his 5-acre ranch. Over the years, Mr. McMullen was married to women named Kathleen, Margaret and Marcia.

He joined the Pasco County Sheriff's Office in 1972 and was captain of the West Pasco office. He left that post to run for Sheriff in 1976, losing to John Short.

"They didn't get along," said Monica King, Mr. McMullen's daughter.

Short placed Mr. McMullen in charge of the county jail, but fired him when four inmates escaped two weeks later. Mr. McMullen said he was fired because he had reported deputies seizing lumber with Short's approval and using it to build a barn.

A state attorney's investigation into the lumber went nowhere. Mr. McMullen returned to the Pinellas sheriff's office as a deputy. In 1980, he again challenged Short for Pasco sheriff, saying he was "trying to get a little integrity back into the office of sheriff."

Short was re-elected. He was later indicted on bribery charges, then exonerated. Mr. McMullen retired in 1989 from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

For all his public exploits, one former deputy remembers Mr. McMullen best for a small favor.

In the early 1970s, Mike Hunter was undergoing his probationary period as a deputy. He needed more money. His wife was pregnant.

There was a moonlighting opportunity. But regulations forbade probationary deputies from working extra unless the sheriff signed off on it.

Mr. McMullen signed the request himself and told the Hunter to "fold it up and put it in your locker."

"He said, 'If you see the sheriff coming, duck,' " said Hunter, 67. "He stuck his neck out for a young kid. That was 42 years ago, and I won't forget it."

Comments

Forecast: No end in sight to Tampa Bay’s record-setting heat

A high-pressure system covering central Florida is maintaining record-setting warm temperatures and dry weather across the Tampa Bay, and there is no end in sight.Record highs in the upper 80s were set Tuesday in Sarasota, Tampa Bay and Clearwater. I...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Police: Teen, 17, shoots Pinellas Park man who confronted him after car break-in

Police: Teen, 17, shoots Pinellas Park man who confronted him after car break-in

PINELLAS PARK — A Pinellas Park teen faces a charge of attempted murder after police say he stole a gun from an unlocked vehicle and shot the owner as he tried to give chase.Police say Brandon Paul Roman, 17, faces charges including attempted murder,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pedestrian killed by hit-and-run driver in Tampa

Pedestrian killed by hit-and-run driver in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was fatally struck by a hit-and-run vehicle early Wednesday morning.Police say the pedestrian died at the scene after being struck in the 6900 block of E Adamo Drive.Eastbound lanes are closed at S Maydell Drive, according to the...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Student protestors reach Tallahassee; Kucherov gets it in gear; St. Petersburg’s black pioneers get their own documentary; fallout over the Souza trade

The Daystarter: Student protestors reach Tallahassee; Kucherov gets it in gear; St. Petersburg’s black pioneers get their own documentary; fallout over the Souza trade

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• For the latest legislative coverage from Tallahassee, keep checking The Buzz, which is updated throughout the day by the reporters of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.• Re...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Documentary pays homage to St. Pete’s black pioneers (w/video)

Documentary pays homage to St. Pete’s black pioneers (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — In the 1940s, David and Archie Boston grew up together in the Gas Plant neighborhood and hung out together on 22nd Street S, where black residents created their own main street, their own haven, in the midst of a segregated city.The ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Today’s WriteLane podcast: Narratives off the news

Today’s WriteLane podcast: Narratives off the news

Today’s WriteLane is about finding narratives off the news.The weekly podcast features Lane DeGregory, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, discussing her stories and answering questions. The focus is on craft.In this week’s epis...
Published: 02/21/18
Florida lawmaker’s aide fired after saying outspoken Parkland students are actors

Florida lawmaker’s aide fired after saying outspoken Parkland students are actors

It bubbled up from the darkest online corners then began to take off: conspiracy theories about Parkland students who’ve spent the past week on TV demanding action on the gun violence that killed 17 and reawakened a national debate.By late Tuesday af...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Updated: 7 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 20

Tuesday’s scoreboardSoftballAdmiral Farragut 17, St. Petersburg Cath. 0BaseballGulf Coast HEAT 9, Canterbury 4Calvary Chr. 6, Lakeland Chr. 1
Updated: 8 hours ago
Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

LARGO — An Illinois teacher used confrontation. A campus safety monitor in Seattle attacked with pepper spray and physical force. An assistant football coach in Indiana shouted as he chased him into the woods.All were civilians who took down an activ...
Updated: 9 hours ago