Sunday, January 21, 2018
Public safety

Police search for assailant in Pinellas Park beating

PINELLAS PARK — Donald McPherson, 63, has almost no vision in his right eye, his speech is impaired and he spent several weeks in the hospital after he was assaulted April 15.

McPherson, a retired dairy broker and part-time handyman from St. Petersburg, was doing maintenance work at an apartment complex in Pinellas Park when someone attacked him from behind at 11:30 a.m. The attacker hit McPherson on the head with an object, causing critical injuries.

As part of their effort to find the attacker, about 10 police officers went door to door at the complex — Lauren Manor Condominiums at 7450 35th St. N — Thursday, asking residents for tips.

"It angers me," McPherson's son, 37-year-old Bruce, said of the attack. "He's a kind-hearted, caring, giving man, who everybody loves … He is finally retired, doing handyman, piddly stuff, and he's brutally beat down. His vision and speech are damaged, and the next year and a half is going to be very difficult."

McPherson's injuries are improving, his son said, but he has no peripheral vision, he can't read text and he sometimes can't remember the name of his dog. He relies on his wife and two sons to take him to daily treatments at the hospital, on top of speech and physical therapy. His medical bills have topped $400,000 and he has no insurance, his son said.

The family has set up the Donald McPherson Recovery Fund at Cornerstone Community Bank to raise money for medical costs.

"From where he was two weeks into this, we're blessed," said Bruce McPherson, a property manager at his family's business, All County Property Management.

Robbery was the motive for the attack, police spokesman Sgt. Brian Unmisig said, though he declined to say if anything was stolen and what kind of weapon was used.

"We would consider this a pretty vicious attack," he said. "It occurred in broad daylight in a residential area. It's a worker here at the apartment complex who was just here doing his job."

Police canvassed at Lauren Manor earlier in the investigation, but Unmisig said this time around someone might remember something they didn't think was important previously, or officers might talk to a person they missed before.

All County Property Management and Lauren Manor are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Crime Stoppers of Pinellas also is offering $1,000.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.

Lauren Carroll can be reached at (727) 893-8913 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @LaurenFCarroll.

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