Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin water tower leaking; man accused of taking potshot with .308-caliber rifle

Dunedin’s million-gallon water tank is leaking over the Dunedin Golf Club course.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Dunedin’s million-gallon water tank is leaking over the Dunedin Golf Club course.

DUNEDIN — The arborist awoke before dawn Tuesday and turned on his TV. Cops.

Brian Hazel, a contractor who trims trees at the golf course surrounding his home, tuned in long enough to get some sense of the plot. Then, as though the bounds between reality and television drama had become porous, Hazel heard a gunshot outside his home. There were three more, quickly. And more — he counted eight, total.

It wasn't yet 4 a.m. Hazel didn't know it, but somewhere in the darkness beyond the fairways, a 200-foot-tall, million-gallon water tank had sprung a leak.

• • •

Mark Fitzgerald, according to people around his neighborhood, is a friendly guy. He lives several blocks from the Dunedin Golf Club. The 49-year-old has a wife and a dog, authorities said. Sometimes he does odd jobs at the clubhouse.

"If we had a water leak or something, he'd come and fix it up," said Dunedin Golf Club president Ronald Randolph.

Ed Hawkes, a 79-year-old whose house faces the 11th tee, said Fitzgerald told him he had been a paratrooper.

Hawkes also heard gunfire — three quick cracks — that woke him about the same time Hazel was watching his Cops episode. Hawkes went outside and sat on his porch. It had rained during the night and was quiet and dark.

Then Hawkes saw a golf cart race up the fairway of the 10th hole, its horn blaring the whole way, he said. He thought it was drunken kids.

• • •

Law enforcement officials say the person behind the wheel of the golf cart was Mark Fitzgerald, intoxicated and heavily armed.

Fitzgerald later told Pinellas County sheriff's deputies that he was searching for his lost dog. In case he ran into coyotes, he explained, he brought along a handgun and a .308-caliber rifle, a powerful weapon that can kill antelopes and bears at distances of more than 300 yards.

The Sheriff's Office said Fitzgerald was intoxicated, but did not specify whether he showed signs of drug or alcohol use.

The coyotes, acknowledged golf course superintendent Allen Brissenden, are a real problem. The creatures came to Dunedin Golf Club for wild rabbits, which like to hang out on the course. But they have grown brazen, Brissenden said, mauling and killing household pets.

"We've had quite a few dead cats," he said.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Fitzgerald eventually leveled his rifle at a bigger target.

• • •

On Tuesday morning, Tom Burke, an engineer for the city of Dunedin, stood beneath one of several reclaimed-water tanks owned by the city. Big and sky blue, it looms over a section of the Dunedin Golf Club course.

As Burke spoke, water fell behind him. It began at a hole in the water tank no thicker than a pen and cascaded 200 feet down, landing as a diffuse shower a few feet in diameter.

"This ranks right up there among the more stupid things I've seen," Burke said. "What was he thinking? There's no way to fathom that."

Sheriff's deputies believe a bullet from Fitzgerald's rifle pierced the carbon steel shell of the tank, which was built in 1965 and provides reclaimed water for irrigation to the golf course and nearby houses.

The tank is now being drained, he said. Contract engineers will have to crawl into its concave underside to reweld the interior where the bullet struck. In the meantime, the city will lose some 800,000 gallons of water storage capacity, he said. Drinking water won't be affected, but the golf course greens could start to get thirsty, Burke said.

He estimates Dunedin's cost from the damage at somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000.

Fitzgerald was arrested Tuesday morning. He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on charges of discharging a firearm in public, discharging a firearm while intoxicated and criminal mischief. He was released Tuesday afternoon on $2,400 bail.

Deputies were able to confirm that Fitzgerald's dog was missing by speaking to his wife, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda.

She said she had no information on what had become of the animal.

Peter Jamison can be reached at pjamison@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4157.

Dunedin water tower leaking; man accused of taking potshot with .308-caliber rifle 12/11/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 8:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays make Hechavarria trade official

    Blogs

    Here is the release from the team ...

     

  2. Jones: Will Tampa Bay hit a Hall of Fame dry spell now?

    Lightning Strikes

    Marty St. Louis may lack the Hall of Fame stats, but two scoring titles, an MVP award and clutch goals should count for a lot. (Dirk Shadd, Times)
  3. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  4. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up to the location disclosed to the city.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]
  5. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Human Interest

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]