Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Public safety

$8,000 reward offered for information on death of Tampa muralist Matt Callahan

More than a month after muralist Matt Callahan died of head injuries sustained near a Tampa bar, police are still working to determine what happened.

But in a flier posted this week on Facebook, his father publicly accuses a man of killing Callahan and offers a $5,000 reward to anyone who can prove it. By Wednesday, the reward had climbed to $8,000, boosted by a restaurant owner who twice commissioned the artist’s work.

"I think the homicide detectives are doing a great job and I have no complaints," said Callahan’s father, St. Petersburg lawyer Michael Callahan. "But I think they could use a little help. There are some people who know things but are reluctant to come forward."

The Tampa Police Department has not named a suspect or a person of interest in the case, or even said that the artist was murdered, only that he argued with a man the night of his fatal injury.

The agency wants people to provide information on all crimes, but pointing a finger at this stage without police confirmation can be "problematic" to an investigation, according to TPD spokeswoman Janelle McGregor.

RELATED: Epilogue: Muralist Matt Callahan ‘lived 100 percent, 100 percent all the time’

Police found Callahan on his back with head trauma just after 3 a.m. on April 11 in a median on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa outside the Warehouse Liquor Store and Bar.

He died on April 13 at Tampa General Hospital. He was 40 and left a wife and a 5-year-old son. His murals adorned walls throughout the Tampa Bay area, including at the Lure restaurants in Tampa and St. Petersburg, inspiring owner Tom Golden to contribute $3,000 to the reward fund.

Callahan’s friends and family took to social media and said he had argued with 34-year-old Keith Mauga of Tampa in the Warehouse the night he was injured.

Mauga’s attorney, Dirk Weed, later confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times that he had been in contact with "several members of the police department" because witnesses indicated his client was involved in an altercation with Callahan.

The Times could not immediately reach Weed on Wednesday to respond to the father’s flyer, which has been shared more than 230 times on Facebook.

BACKSTORY: Attorney says police investigating muralist Matt Callahan’s death are asking about client.

Michael Callahan wrote the flyer after talking to people who were at the bar that night, he said.

He wrote it as if his son were the one telling the story and the one accusing Mauga, alleging that he "approached my truck outside The Warehouse bar on Gandy Blvd. and struck me so hard that the back of my head and brain were severely damaged."

"Three minutes after Mr. Mauga struck me, I was found in the median of Gandy Blvd. where Mr. Mauga and perhaps one or two of his friends left me. Within a few minutes, the EMT’s found me with fixed pupils and no chance of recovery."

The flyer, with old jail booking mugs of Mauga, goes on to detail his criminal history, including a 2017 arrest relating to the aggravated battery of a patron outside a St. Petersburg bar. That argument started over a game of pool, a court record states. A jury trial is set for June 6.

Michael Callahan said he learned that Mauga was angry with his son over a pool game too.

The flyer provides personal information on Mauga, including two Tampa addresses, a location where he trains as a boxer and another where he sometimes resides in New Jersey.

"I want him to understand I am watching his every move," Michael Callahan said. "I want him to understand clearly from me as a father that I am not afraid of his threats or conduct."

The flyer concludes by inviting people with information about Matt Callahan’s death to call TPD homicide detective Nicholas Sclavakis at (813) 276-3556 or leave an anonymous tip at Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay, (800) 873-8477.

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

   
Comments

FDLE: Pasco couple scammed elderly employer out of $480,000

TAMPA — A Pasco County couple face dozens of charges after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said they stole more than $480,000 from their elderly employer.Chet Alan Ragsdale, 45, was arrested Monday on 28 counts of grand theft, 25 counts of ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
4 sinkholes open in The Villages retirement community

4 sinkholes open in The Villages retirement community

THE VILLAGES — Four sinkholes have opened up in a fast-growing retirement community in Florida, including one in front of a home that was abandoned months ago because of an earlier sinkhole. A spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office says t...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Florida man caught walking around naked with a bottle of cooking oil, deputies say

Florida man caught walking around naked with a bottle of cooking oil, deputies say

A Gulf Breeze man walked around a neighborhood naked while carrying a bottle of cooking oil, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s deputies said.The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a homeowner at 8:30 p.m. on May 17 saying home security...
Updated: 12 hours ago
A man punched a pregnant, deaf woman and her service dog on a plane ride to Florida, police say

A man punched a pregnant, deaf woman and her service dog on a plane ride to Florida, police say

A man is accused of attacking a deaf couple and their service dog while they were travelling on a plane headed toward Orlando.The incident happened as Matthew Silvay, 30, and Hazel Ramirez, 21, were on Frontier Flight 1752 as it left Colorado Springs...
Published: 05/21/18
Pasco sheriff: Man, 23, sexually battered 10-year-old girl

Pasco sheriff: Man, 23, sexually battered 10-year-old girl

PORT RICHEY — A 23-year-old man was arrested Friday on a charge of sexual battery under the age of 12, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Elias Barreiro sexually battered a 10-year-old girl last year, according to the arrest report. He wa...
Published: 05/21/18
Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

PAHOA, Hawaii — White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago. Auth...
Published: 05/21/18
Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

PINELLAS PARK — Traffic lights have been restored at the intersection of 66th Street N and Park Boulevard, police said. About 5:45 p.m., Pinellas Park Police announced the outage. 
Published: 05/20/18
Updated: 05/21/18
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student looking forward to celebrating his family's new swimming pool and a substitute teacher whose home frequently hosted family gatherings were among the 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high sch...
Published: 05/20/18
Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

TAMPA — After a botched burglary, a fleeing suspect jumped into a canal to escape deputies Saturday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The person has not yet been identified. The suspect tried to break into a business on...
Published: 05/19/18
Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

HAVANA — The only three survivors of Cuba’s worst aviation disaster in three decades were clinging to life Saturday, a day after their passenger jet crashed in a fireball in Havana’s rural outskirts with 113 people on board. In the first official dea...
Published: 05/19/18