Monday, October 22, 2018
Public safety

Tampa neighbors saw no sign of radicalism in man suspected of New York rampage

TAMPA — One neighbor remembered Sayfullo Saipov because he shared dishes from his native Uzbekistan. Another, only that he had a habit of speeding through their apartment complex.

One day after the New York terror attack, residents of the Heritage at Tampa apartments were still trying to reconcile how the neighbor and father who lived in their midst could be the same man who police say mowed down and killed eight people in a rented truck before he was shot by police.

Saipov, 29, was last seen at the northeast Tampa apartment complex off 56th Street north of Sligh Avenue between three and seven months ago after living there for about two years, neighbors said.

The future terror suspect was a soft-spoken man who appeared to be little more than 100 pounds to some. He was friendly to some, distant to others.

"He never said anything bad about this country," Kyong Eagan said. She remembers him giving her lamb. She said he once gave her a case of water after she said she was thirsty. "If I needed water, he’d bring me a river."

Neighbor Melissa Matthews said she saw no sign that Saipov had issues with America.

His kids, Matthews said, "played with other kids behind the buildings." He "didn’t seem to have a problem with them playing with black kids, white kids or Hispanic kids. The kids were kids."

Eagan remembers Saipov and his wife having two children, saying they moved out about seven months ago. Matthews remembers three children, including a newborn, and believes she saw them as recently as three months ago at the apartment complex.

Saipov drove a white minivan at speeds too fast for a residential area, she said. On one occasion, Matthews said, Saipov nearly hit her as she walked.

"My fiance had words with him that day."

Saipov moved out of Heritage at Tampa earlier this year, giving Eagan first pick of his unwanted belongings.

"He gave me electronic devices, HP computer printers, a vacuum, toys, flower pots, shovels," she said.

She donated the items to the Salvation Army long ago, she said, as she told federal investigators who came to her home.

Law enforcement officials in Tampa, Temple Terrace and unincorporated Hillsborough County say they have had no contact with Saipov as a defendant, victim or witness in any matter.

Florida driving records show a trail in Florida dating back to 2010, when he passed a commercial driver’s license road test administered by Metropolitan Trucking & Technical Institute in Miami. His file shows evidence of licenses in Florida, Ohio and New Jersey.

It’s unclear whether Saipov, who reports say was a Muslim, worshiped at the nearby Islamic Society of Tampa Bay on Sligh Avenue.

Hassan Shibly, the executive director of the Florida Council on American Islamic Relations in Tampa, gives sermons at the city’s major mosques. He said Saipov was not well-known in the community and doesn’t represent Muslims any more than he represents residents of Tampa.

"We’re all horrified by the attack," he said. The American-Muslim community, Shibly said, is "first and foremost, American like everyone else. Our first concern is for the victims."

Shibly worries about the possibility of reprisals against Muslims as a result of what he called a double standard that puts religion at the forefront of discussion after some attacks but not others.

When, for example, the attacker is white, as was the case of 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, who shot and killed 58 people in Las Vegas last month, you didn’t see Christian priests being interviewed about the shooter, Shibly said, because everyone recognizes the slaughter as the act of someone who’s deranged.

Reports that Saipov shouted "God is great" in Arabic after the attack do not erase that it’s an act of heresy, Shibly said, any more than saying "God is great" would make it okay for a Muslim to eat pork, which is prohibited by the religion.

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3446. Follow @Danielson_Times.

Comments
Hillsborough Sheriff: Double homicide at apartment, suspect in custody

Hillsborough Sheriff: Double homicide at apartment, suspect in custody

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a double homicide after discovering the bodies of a woman and a boy in an apartment Sunday evening.About 6:47 p.m., Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said authorities received a 911...
Updated: 7 hours ago
TPD: Man driving wrong way on Selmon Expressway with lights off kills 68-year-old

TPD: Man driving wrong way on Selmon Expressway with lights off kills 68-year-old

TAMPA — For years, Bamnet Narongchai showed up to the Wat Buddhist temple on Sunday morning to grill chicken for the temple’s weekly market.He was expected to be there this past Sunday, like always. But by the time the market started, the grim news w...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Jacksonville shooting: 6 shot, 3 in critical condition; Picture of car released

Jacksonville shooting: 6 shot, 3 in critical condition; Picture of car released

JACKSONVILLE — Six people have been shot a few blocks from an NFL stadium in Jacksonville, and three are in critical condition, authorities reported.No suspect is yet in custody, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.About 12:35 p.m., a vehi...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Driver dead in single-car crash in Riverview, deputies say

Driver dead in single-car crash in Riverview, deputies say

RIVERVIEW — A driver in a single-car crash early Sunday morning, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.About 1:20 a.m., deputies found the driver unresponsive, after his car crashed into a chain link fence and power pole.No one else w...
Published: 10/21/18
FHP: Pedestrian, 70, hit and killed in Brandon

FHP: Pedestrian, 70, hit and killed in Brandon

BRANDON — A 70-year-old woman was hit and killed crossing State Road 60 on Saturday night, troopers reported.Mary J. Philip, of New Port Richey, was walking across the road near Mount Carmel Road about 11:11 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Pat...
Published: 10/21/18
FHP: Pedestrian, 87, hit and killed crossing State Road 52

FHP: Pedestrian, 87, hit and killed crossing State Road 52

PORT RICHEY — A driver hit and killed a pedestrian on State Road 52 near Bayonet Point, troopers reported.About 5:49 p.m., the pedestrian, 87-year-old Daniel William Troy, was walking north across the road, east of Meadow Drive.At the same time, Chri...
Published: 10/21/18

Woman, 20, killed by falling palm tree on Egmont Key

ST. PETERSBURG — A 20-year-old woman died Saturday afternoon at Egmont Key Park when a palm tree fell on her, according to Hillsborough deputies.Isabel Melendez was lying in a hammock about 4 p.m. on the island, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Offi...
Published: 10/20/18
Homicide victim found lying off Dale Mabry/ Busch is 34-year-old man, deputies say

Homicide victim found lying off Dale Mabry/ Busch is 34-year-old man, deputies say

TAMPA — A homicide victim found lying alongside Dale Mabry Highway and Busch Boulevard on Friday afternoon has been identified as Michael Andrew Montalbano, 34, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.Investigators said only that Montalb...
Published: 10/20/18
CrossFit worker, 16, stabbed during robbery attempt outside Tarpon Springs gym

CrossFit worker, 16, stabbed during robbery attempt outside Tarpon Springs gym

TARPON SPRINGS — A Spring Hill teen has been arrested in the stabbing of another teen during a robbery attempt outside a gym where the victim worked.Dedson Hallon Suas, 17, faces a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and attempte...
Published: 10/20/18
Drunk driver hits 11 vehicles on I-275, including state trooper's car. No one hurt

Drunk driver hits 11 vehicles on I-275, including state trooper's car. No one hurt

ST. PETERSBURG — A drunk driver collided with 11 vehicles along a five-mile stretch of Interstate 275 before he was arrested as he was stopped in traffic after exiting into downtown, the Florida Highway Patrol said.No one one was injured in th...
Published: 10/20/18