ST. PETERSBURG — Detectives arrested a 20-year-old man late Tuesday night in the death of Mathew F. Little, the private security officer who police said was shot and killed on the job.
Bradley Bolden was arrested at 9:15 p.m. on a charge of first degree murder. The motive, according to St. Petersburg police: Bolden said he doesn't like security personnel or law enforcement officers.
"We were very happy to bring the case to a quick conclusion for the sake of officer Little's family and co-workers," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.
Little, 26, of Brandon had spent the past two years working for Critical Intervention Services, a private security firm in Largo. His usual beat was around the University of South Florida in Tampa.
But on Sunday, he was sent to work the night shift in St. Petersburg.
The company was shorthanded after 30 officers reported for military training.
Little parked his patrol car inside the Mariner's Pointe Apartment complex at 1175 Pinellas Point Drive S around 1 a.m. Monday. He told dispatch he was going out on foot patrol.
Then gunshots were reported to police at 1:07 a.m.
St. Petersburg officers searched the area but found nothing.
They left at 1:51 a.m. They returned when Little failed to check in. Police officers found his body at 2:09 a.m.
He was lying dead by the pool, between two vehicles. His gun was missing. Multiple gunshots had been fired, police said, and Litttle had been shot above his bullet-resistant vest.
Earlier Tuesday, police said they received several tips linking Bolden to the slaying.
He was also identified by a witness who had seen him run from the complex right after the shooting, carrying two handguns.
It was 44 hours later when police caught up with Bolden. They said they arrested him in the 1300 block of 66th Avenue S, just north of the sprawling, 368-unit complex. Bolden didn't resist, police said.
Bolden, whose address was listed as 6701 21st St. S, was not a resident of the complex.
He was taken to police headquarters and later Tuesday night admitted that he had shot the security officer, according to St. Petersburg police.
Police did not release anymore details about the slaying. Detectives were still searching the apartment complex and surrounding area early this morning, a police spokesman said, looking for two weapons: the gun police say he used against Little and the gun he stole from Little
This was to be a life-changing year for Little.
He had made the final cut to be selected as a Hillsborough County sheriff's cadet. He was also planning to marry his fiancee in November. He was a graduate of Sarasota High School and the University of South Florida.
Little's security firm had offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction in the case.
Police did not disclose what role the reward played in making an arrest or if anyone will receive it.
CIS stepped up its patrols of Mariner's Pointe after losing one of their own. Little was a popular officer remembered by colleagues for his ability to calm tense situations.
"I guess you could say it was his aura," said his supervisor, Cpl. Ricky Vargas. "Even when there's swearing and negativity all around, he came in with a sense of calm.
"You hear about good cop, bad cop. He was always angel cop. The calm one."
Jamal Thalji can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8472.