Sunday, June 24, 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

A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

TAMPA — Every year during draft season, local players from the Tampa Bay area are selected in the NFL, MLB and even NBA drafts.But hockey?Sure enough, in the third round of Saturday's NHL draft, the Winnipeg Jets selected Nathan Smith, a forwar...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

ST. PETERSBURG – Jake Bauers hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning as the Rays defeated the Yankees 7-6 in front of 23,667 at Tropicana Field to complete a three-game sweep Sunday. It's the first time the Yankees have lost three straight t...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

Hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

A Tampa man suffered life-threatening injuries and his 3-year-old son is in serious condition after being struck by a hit-and-run driver as they went on a family bike ride Sunday afternoon."This is a family in a very tough situation," Tampa Police De...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

The coast of White Rock, British Columbia, in western Canada looks to be an ideal place for a run, with its sweeping views of the Semiahmoo Bay to the west and scores of waterfront homes and seafood restaurants to the east. Thatís what 19-year-old Ce...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

ST. PETERSBURG ó Three people forced their way into a St. Petersburg house before dawn Sunday before gunfire broke out, killing a suspect and injuring two residents, police said.About 5:30 a.m., the people arrived at a house in Childs Park, on the 41...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

TAMPA ó Stripped to the girders, the old Bromley office building looked about as substantial as fish bones on a dinner plate.But the 5-story structure proved Sunday it still had a surprising amount of fight left in it.A demolition team had planned to...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A 19-year-old driver died in a three-car crash on Moon Lake Road on Saturday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.Jillian Faith Hitt, 19 and of New Port Richey, was driving north on the road in a 2008 Hyundai Accent, weari...
Updated: 5 hours ago
President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

STERLING, Ill. - As a longtime editor of small-town newspapers, Jeff Rogers has seen his industry face the collapse of print advertising, the rise of the internet and more. Today, his 18 employees work in a newsroom here that puts out two daily newsp...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Police: St. Petersburg driver falls asleep at wheel after drinking, kills motorcyclist

Police: St. Petersburg driver falls asleep at wheel after drinking, kills motorcyclist

ST. PETERSBURG ó A 22-year-old driver fell asleep at the wheel after drinking and ran a red light, hitting and killing a motorcyclist Saturday night, police said.Just before midnight, Michael P. Majchrowski, 48, was riding a 2016 BMW motorcycle eastb...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Making the case for more drones

Making the case for more drones

BLACKSBURG, Va. - They considered how well everyone slept the night before. They considered the chances a military jet might scream by on a training mission. They considered the farmer in the field.Then they considered some more.After making it throu...
Updated: 9 hours ago