Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Public safety

Pinellas Sheriff's Office offering $10,000 reward for information on murder suspect

LARGO — Wanted as a first-degree murder suspect in what authorities describe as a drug deal gone bad, Eddie Jonathan Todd Walker has eluded Pinellas sheriff's deputies with what is perhaps an undervalued asset among criminals: his feet.

Walker, a 24-year-old who has been arrested 21 times in Florida, shot and killed Largo resident Terrance Thomas in April after Thomas sold him low-quality cocaine, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Walker was surrounded by more than a dozen deputies and two police dogs at a convenience store on Ulmerton Road last Thursday, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

He ripped off his shirt, shuffled out of his sandals and ran. Law enforcement has not seen or heard from him since, and the Sheriff's Office is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, Gualtieri announced to the media Monday morning.

"I'd say he probably could compete with Bolt, the guy in the Olympics. He's fast," Gualtieri said, referring to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, winner of three gold medals in the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, which wrapped up Sunday.

Gualtieri said Walker, communicating through attorney Robert Love, had promised to turn himself in over the weekend. That didn't happen.

Instead, Walker, who the sheriff described as "very dangerous," remains at large. "The information we have is that he's always armed," Gualtieri said.

Walker has been arrested previously on charges that include battery of a pregnant woman, carrying a concealed weapon, and multiple charges of fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.

Several witnesses saw Walker argue with Thomas the night of April 5, on Patterson Street in Largo. Gualtieri said Thomas had sold Walker cocaine "cut," or diluted, with an undesirable amount of other substances. The dispute ended when Walker killed Thomas with a single shot, Gualtieri said. He would not disclose what type of gun was used.

Witnesses recently provided information to detectives that led to an arrest warrant, issued Thursday. After the failed effort to capture Walker that night, Gualtieri said, detectives placed a Clearwater apartment complex where they thought he might be hiding under surveillance, but didn't find him.

"We now need help from the public," Gualtieri said.

Gualtieri is running for re-election to his job in today's Republican primary election and is facing a tough challenge from former Pinellas Sheriff Everett Rice. At the press conference, he rejected suggestions that the reward announcement was timed to get a burst of free media attention on the eve of voting.

"I expect there are those out there who will say the timing has to do with tomorrow," Gualtieri said Monday. However, "It's about getting a killer off the streets," he said.

Authorities ask that anyone with information about Walker call (727) 582-8477.

Times staff writer Laura C. Morel and news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Comments
Police: St. Pete man who pried a safe out of the wall in custody

Police: St. Pete man who pried a safe out of the wall in custody

ST. PETERSBURG — It took more than an hour for a 25-year-old man to break into a restaurant, pry a safe out of the wall, drag it through the back and then wrestle it into his car, according to police.That was last week. Michael Murphy was arrested Tu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Search underway for North Carolina man missing from Tampa-based Carnival Paradise

Search underway for North Carolina man missing from Tampa-based Carnival Paradise

The U.S. Coast Guard was searching Tuesday for a 50-year-old North Carolina man who reportedly fell off a Tampa-based cruise ship.The Coast Guard Key West received a call from the cruise ship Carnival Paradise about 10 a.m. saying the man, Brian Lamo...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Deputies: 10th-grader brings loaded gun to Bradenton high school

Deputies: 10th-grader brings loaded gun to Bradenton high school

A Bradenton Bayshore High School student faces charges after he brought a gun on campus on Tuesday, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.Around 11:45 a.m., school resource officers were alerted by school staff that the student, a 10th-gra...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Police swarm Panama City street in apparent shootout

Police swarm Panama City street in apparent shootout

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Multiple law enforcement agencies have surrounded a Panama City apartment building where an active shooter is barricaded inside.City spokeswoman Caitlyn Lawrence says it’s still an active situation. The suspect has been firing on ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
FedEx driver, 22, dies in crash on Interstate 4

FedEx driver, 22, dies in crash on Interstate 4

TAMPA — A 22-year-old FedEx driver died on Interstate 4 Tuesday when a tire blew out on his freight truck, which veered into the path of a Chevrolet Volt, state troopers said. Two teen girls in the Volt survived the 10:21 a.m. crash. A photo shows ci...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Crime in Florida, Tampa Bay region decreased in 2017, data show

Crime in Florida, Tampa Bay region decreased in 2017, data show

Crime in Florida reached a 47-year low in 2017, according to state figures released Tuesday and touted as a "major announcement" by a Republican governor determined to win a U.S. Senate seat. The state’s total crime rate dropped by 6 percent from 201...
Published: 05/22/18

FDLE: Pasco couple scammed elderly employer out of $480,000

TAMPA — A Pasco County couple face dozens of charges after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said they stole more than $480,000 from their elderly employer.Chet Alan Ragsdale, 45, was arrested Monday on 28 counts of grand theft, 25 counts of ...
Published: 05/21/18
4 sinkholes open in The Villages retirement community

4 sinkholes open in The Villages retirement community

THE VILLAGES — Four sinkholes have opened up in a fast-growing retirement community in Florida, including one in front of a home that was abandoned months ago because of an earlier sinkhole. A spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office says t...
Published: 05/21/18
Florida man caught walking around naked with a bottle of cooking oil, deputies say

Florida man caught walking around naked with a bottle of cooking oil, deputies say

A Gulf Breeze man walked around a neighborhood naked while carrying a bottle of cooking oil, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s deputies said.The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a homeowner at 8:30 p.m. on May 17 saying home security...
Published: 05/21/18
A man punched a pregnant, deaf woman and her service dog on a plane ride to Florida, police say

A man punched a pregnant, deaf woman and her service dog on a plane ride to Florida, police say

A man is accused of attacking a deaf couple and their service dog while they were travelling on a plane headed toward Orlando.The incident happened as Matthew Silvay, 30, and Hazel Ramirez, 21, were on Frontier Flight 1752 as it left Colorado Springs...
Published: 05/21/18