Sunday, March 18, 2018
Public safety

Authorities: Drug-addicted former principal goes on rampage, killing two, injuring nine others

PINELLAS PARK — A maroon Ford Five Hundred Limited idled in the parking lot behind the Egg Platter restaurant.

A white Ford Ranger pulled in behind it, and two women stepped out. They hurried to the car and, frantically, tried to pull the driver out.

Clearly intoxicated, the man wobbled to his feet. His white T-shirt was soaked in blood.

The women — one of them his mother — maneuvered him to the pickup and tried to wedge him into the cab.

At more than 300 pounds, he was too big to fit.

They drove away, his legs dangling out the door.

Inside, the man, Anthony J. Giancola, turned to them and made this declaration, according to Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri:

"You're going to be proud of me because I just killed 10 drug dealers."

In Giancola's wake: four people stabbed, two fatally; two people severely beaten; and five others rammed by his car.

The rampage, authorities said, began at 5100 35th Way N, a group home for the hearing impaired.

Giancola, a 45-year-old former Tampa middle school principal busted for buying crack cocaine five years ago, stabbed four people there, authorities said.

Justin Lee Vandenburgh, 27, and Mary Anne Allis, 59, were killed. Two others, both women, were injured.

Lealman firefighters got the call about 10:45 a.m. The sheriff's homicide team was called in soon afterward.

Giancola, authorities said, left behind a large butcher knife.

"It's just a shame," said Donna Billings, 50. "They were nice people."

She lives down the street from the group home. Friday morning she edged close to the yellow crime scene tape and watched as deputies trekked in and out of the brown stucco house. The blue-collar Lealman neighborhood sits in the shadow of used car dealerships along U.S. 19.

Neighbors said the home's occupants, all deaf except for a young girl, often partied on the front porch, which on Friday was bracketed by piles of broken chairs, dirty clothes and trash.

But no one heard any commotion Friday morning.

"When I left to get breakfast everything was fine," said neighbor Bonita Cross, 60, who returned to fire trucks and cruisers lined down her street. "It was that quick."

About 45 minutes into the investigation, two sheriff's cruisers sped away from the home.

Another crime scene awaited.

• • •

At 11:30 a.m., barely a mile and half away, Giancola pulled into the parking lot of Kenvin's Motel, an aged building on Haines Road with white cinderblock walls and peeling shingles and a reputation for prostitution.

In two separate rooms, authorities say, Giancola found the motel's owners and beat them with a microwave.

Kanu A. Patel and his wife, Indiranden Patel, both 57, suffered severe injuries. Officials called Kanu Patel's wounds life threatening.

Ten minutes later, Giancola parked outside the HCF Foods Discount Store on 58th Avenue N. He punched his car in reverse and slammed into a 4-foot wooden pole.

Undeterred, he drove across the street and spoke to a half dozen people sitting on the stoop of a small white house, known for its frequent visits from police.

"He come up here looking for some women," said 46-year-old Darrell Edgar.

When they told him there were no women to be had, Edgar said, Giancola drove away angry.

He circled the block, then came back. He aimed his car for the porch, speeding through the yard and crashing into the stoop, hitting a man and three women.

The Ford hit the house with such force it broke the front door and cracked the concrete stoop.

Tammy Dollar, 45, and Sherri Ray, 45, were injured badly. Tammy McMillin, 46, also was taken to the hospital, treated and released.

"He tried to kill five people straight up," said Edgar, who had refused hospital care after gashing his shin. "The guy's a maniac."

Corey Winters said he was standing nearby and just avoided being run over. He threw a beer can at the car. The driver looked so intoxicated, Winters said, that he was falling asleep behind the wheel.

Giancola was first arrested in 2007 after authorities say he bought $20 of crack from an undercover police officer during the school day at Van Buren Middle School in Tampa. He was put on probation, but arrested again after being caught loitering in St. Petersburg in 2010.

Pinellas deputies found, on his car floor, a full-size butcher knife.

• • •

Authorities say Giancola backed away from the blood and broken bones on the porch and drove west.

A few blocks away, 13-year-old Kole Price was pedaling his bicycle home. He had spent the morning with his grandfather at Sawgrass Lake Park, spotting catfish and alligators from the boardwalk.

Without warning, Kole said, Giancola's car veered off the road and smashed into him, knocking him to the grass.

The bald man inside the Ford then backed up, Kole said, and purposely ran into him again.

Kole was on his side, wedged beneath the front bumper. The car pushed him 10 feet. Chunks of grass tore from the ground. His metal handlebars twisted and his pedals dug into the earth.

"You trying to kill me?" Kole screamed.

When Kole's eyes opened, his face was just two feet from the right front tire. He expected to die.

The car backed up again. To run over him a third time, the boy figured. Kole saw his chance. He stood up and limped to hide between a telephone pole and Buddhist shrine someone had erected on the roadside.

Giancola drove away.

Other than a bruised ankle and hip, Kole escaped with little harm. He's convinced the silver Razor Launch 180 saved his life. A friend had given it to him just a few days earlier.

"This just amazes the hell out of me," said Kole's grandfather, Kevin Price, about an hour after the attack. "I just hope they get this guy."

• • •

Giancola tried to hide the blood by turning his shirt inside out.

His mother and another woman, who had picked him up from the restaurant, took him home.

But he didn't stay. He left, walking west.

His mother called sheriff's deputies.

At 1:06 p.m., canine units tracked Giancola's scent to a clump of brush next to a canal in the area of 56th Avenue N and 66th Lane N.

He was hunkered down, the sheriff said, and seemed to be under the influence.

Authorities arrested him on charges of murder and attempted murder.

He refused to talk.

Times photographer Melissa Lyttle, staff writer Justin George and researchers Carolyn Edds, Natalie Watson and Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

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