Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas deputies honored for heroism during courthouse shootout

SEMINOLE — A year ago, Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats was on stage shaking hands during the annual sheriff's award ceremony when a frantic deputy came up to whisper in his ear:

An armed man had just tried to shoot his way into the St. Petersburg courthouse.

Two bailiffs stopped him. The deputies returned fire and killed the intruder. No one else was hurt.

On Wednesday, Coats was shaking the hands of Marvin Glover and B.J. Lyons, who were both named deputies of the year for their actions during the May 7 shootout. The men also received the combat cross for exceptional heroism against an armed adversary.

The deputies who stood and clapped may have had another reason to do so. Lyons spent many of his 27 years with the Sheriff's Office as a firearms trainer, teaching them how to react to the combat situation he found himself in.

"He trained me," Coats said. "I've always said he was the right person to be there that day."

Authorities don't know what drove Glen Powell, a 30-year-old Brandon man undergoing a divorce, to arm himself and try to breach the courthouse entrance.

He pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and opened fire. Seconds later the bailiffs on duty, Glover and Lyons, shot him dead — averting a potential massacre. Authorities found 79 rounds of ammunition, a gas mask and a large knife on Powell.

"No one feels good about having to take a life," said Glover, 58, who spent 27 years with the St. Petersburg Police Department before leaving to work for the sheriff eight years ago. "But when you're put in a position where you have to choose, it's all about survival and protecting the citizens."

Lyons, 59, also received the purple heart for being slightly injured in the shootout. A bullet glanced off the microphone on his shoulder. He retired in February as a deputy, but not as a teacher.

More than 300 people attended the ceremony Wednesday, where dozens of deputies and sheriff's staffers were honored for everything from arresting dangerous suspects to saving the lives of jail inmates to saving the agency time and money.

Ralph Lutz and David Harvey were honored as detention deputies of the year for taking a loaded shotgun away from a man who showed up at a social gathering looking for his girlfriend.

The forensic science specialist of the year was Traci Erwin, and the child protection investigation data specialist of the year was Christine Bush.

For all Lyons' years of service, this was the first ceremony he had ever attended. He always seemed to be on duty when awards were handed out.

But he finally figured out how to make it to one.

"You have to be retired," he said, smiling.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8472.

Pinellas deputies honored for heroism during courthouse shootout 05/06/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump issues warning to McCain after senator's 'half-baked' comment (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a warning shot after Republican Sen. John McCain questioned "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in America's foreign policy, saying "people have to be careful because at some point I fight back."

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, accompanied by Chair of the National Constitution Center's Board of Trustees, former Vice President Joe Biden, waves as he takes the stage before receiving the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. [Associated Press]
  2. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code


    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  3. A punter is the state's only first-team, midseason All-American


    Here's another indictment of how mediocre the state's college football season has become.

  4. Fred Ridley on the Road to Augusta


    Last week, I sat down with Fred Ridley, the new chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. Ridley, a lawyer who has resided in Tampa since 1981, was the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion and is the only Chairman to have played in the Masters. I wrote a long story on Ridley, but here are some of the other …

    Fred Ridley, looks on during the Green Jacket Ceremony during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament in April at Augusta National Golf Club.
  5. Tampa police link two shootings, tell Seminole Heights residents to avoid walking alone


    TAMPA — One was a 22-year-old African American man. The other was a 32-year-old white woman.

    A small memorial sits in the grassy lot on East Orleans Avenue in Seminole Heights where 32-year-old Monica Hoffa's body was found Friday. Hoffa had been shot to death, and Tampa police say they believe her killing is related to the shooting death of Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22, at a bus stop near N 15th Street and E Frierson Avenue on Oct. 9. There are no clear motives, however, and police have asked to residents to be on the lookout for anything suspicious and avoid traveling alone at night. JONATHAN CAPRIEL/Times staff