Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Public safety

Discovery of stolen motorcycle raises more questions in Pinellas Park cemetery shooting

PINELLAS PARK — The motorcycle that led a state trooper to a cemetery where he shot a 48-year-old man was stolen from an auto body shop last weekend along with nearly two dozen other items, officials said.

It's no ordinary bike.

Shimmering red with bright yellow flames, fiery dragons and a snakeskin patterned seat, the $60,000 motorcycle emitted a LoJack theft-recovery signal that lured a Florida Highway Patrol trooper to the Royal Palm cemetery in Pinellas Park on Monday.

Trooper Daniel Cole, a 13-year FHP veteran, followed the signal to a shed, where he confronted Clifford F. Work, a cemetery owner with no criminal record and a concealed weapons permit.

Work was armed. So was Cole.

No one's sure what happened between the two men before Cole fired his weapon, wounding Work in a leg.

Work was rushed to Bayfront Medical Center as police executed a search warrant for the motorcycle. They thought it might be inside a shed on the property.

They found it instead among nearby trees.

The bike is a Suzuki motorcycle built for racing. It was taken during a commercial burglary early Sunday at Enhanced Customs, 12355 62nd St. N, according to Pinellas Park police.

Other items reported stolen included several car stereo systems, auto tools, alarm systems, valves, tanks, a brake system, cash and two welding machines that owner Frank Froelich said weigh nearly 1,000 pounds apiece.

Froelich and an employee discovered the burglary Sunday afternoon.

The door to their shop, a small garage tucked away at the back of an industrial complex, was ajar.

As he walked farther into his shop, Froelich said his chest tightened. Most of the equipment he uses isn't covered by his shopkeeper's insurance.

"Gone," he said. "Thousands of dollars in equipment, all gone."

The motorcycle was undergoing repairs when it was stolen. It wasn't until days later that Froelich realized this was the bike that led a state trooper to shoot another man.

"I feel like I'm living in the twilight zone," he said. "What is going on here?"

That's what officials are still trying to figure out.

Froelich, who has owned the business for 11 years, said he has never seen Work before. The name doesn't ring a bell.

"I've been trying to think of who could have done this," he said. "It's been driving me insane."

According to a Pinellas Park police report, officers identified a possible suspect who was a customer of the shop several years ago. Officials wouldn't release the name.

The recovered motorcycle, which has been taken in as evidence, belongs to Thomas Singleton, 39, of Tarpon Springs.

Singleton, a former Pinellas County deputy, made headlines 10 years ago for shooting to death a man who drew a gun on a woman and threatened suicide in a Largo mobile home park. That shooting was ruled justifiable.

The deputy was fired in 2006 after an internal investigation found he socialized with convicts, used his agency-issued phone to call them and had sex while on duty with a waitress in a St. Petersburg cemetery.

He was never charged with any crime and couldn't be reached Thursday.

Several agencies continue to investigate this week's events.

Pinellas Park police are leading the burglary inquiry, while the Florida Highway Patrol and state Department of Law Enforcement investigate the shooting.

Cole, who was placed on paid administrative leave following the incident, could come back to work Friday if he chooses.

Work, who had to undergo surgery after the incident, remains at Bayfront in stable condition.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

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