Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa cop's son was half-hearted in robbery attempt, victim says

TAMPA — A man who was almost robbed at gunpoint, allegedly by the son of a Tampa police officer, said the quiet young man didn't seem interested in the crime he was committing.

"It seems like he was almost being put up to it by someone else," said Chris Gurrie, a 31-year-old University of Tampa professor.

Paul Nicholas McDonald, the 18-year-old son of gang squad Officer Audrey Peterson, was charged with two counts of armed attempted robbery after police say he tried to rob Gurrie and a friend in the Grand Central parking garage near Channelside after midnight Feb. 20.

The men refused to hand over any money, and McDonald ran away, police said.

McDonald, a student at East Bay High School, was arrested after a teacher caught him showing another student an online police bulletin containing a description and surveillance photo of the robber. According to an arrest affidavit, the friend asked McDonald why McDonald "was featured in the photo."

He was released from the Hills­borough County Jail on $15,000 bail.

Gurrie, a UT public speaking professor, recalled the night in a telephone interview last week before McDonald was identified.

Gurrie said he and James Goodman were so unfazed by the incident that they reported it to the police non-emergency line.

They were walking to their car from a nearby birthday party when they heard a soft-spoken person mumbling something from behind. "He was half-hearted," Gurrie said of the young man. "He didn't seem into it."

Although he was brandishing a gun, Gurrie said the young man didn't seem to care if they complied.

When the young man told Gurrie, "Give me your wallet or I'm gonna shoot you," Gurrie said he wasn't afraid to refuse. "This was kind of a joke to me at this point."

The would-be robber turned and ran to a waiting car, Gurrie said.

It might have been a teenage prank, Gurrie said, but "when you play a prank you're excited to play a prank. This was like a 'No, I really shouldn't be doing this' kind of thing."

Police said McDonald's gun was wrapped in a red bandana, which initially intimated the crime might be gang-related.

Gang members typically use colored bandanas to "fly their flag," but the gang squad said the bandana alone isn't enough to suggest gang activity, said Laura McElroy, a police spokeswoman.

McElroy said robbery suspects often wrap their guns with cloth to conceal fingerprints, though it usually doesn't work.

Gurrie and Goodman kept walking to their truck on an upper floor of the garage, where they called the police non-emergency line.

Police compared McDonald to the image of the person on the garage surveillance video. His mother saw the video, too, and immediately identified her son, police said.

McElroy said McDonald's mother joined the gang unit Jan. 24 and is still in training.

McDonald has no criminal record, did not have any gang tattoos and did not have gang markings on his textbooks, McElroy said.

"We haven't said, 'Oh no, this is absolutely not gang-related,' but right now we don't have any strong indicators," McElroy said. "We do have kids who try to imitate thugs."

Tampa cop's son was half-hearted in robbery attempt, victim says 03/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 10:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Datz to open in St. Petersburg, join the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

    Food & Dining

    Now Datz news.

    Get it? Tuesday, Datz, the longtime line-out-the-door, oft-Instagrammed and -Yelped Tampa stalwart known for shock-and-awe sandwiches and oh-so-much bacon, announced it is coming to St. Petersburg.

    Lunch guest eat at Datz Deli at 2616 South MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Times files.
  2. Republican leader McConnell pulls the plug on latest Obamacare repeal effort

    WASHINGTON --- Sen. Mitch McConnell on Tuesday officially pulled the plug on the latest plan to repeal the health care law, telling senators they will not vote on the measure and effectively admitting defeat in the last-gasp drive to fulfill a core promise of President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, after the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary. DeVos was approved by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) DCSA119
  3. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in


    The Rays open their final road series of the season tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is also where they played their first of the season.

    LHP Blake Snell will be on the mound for the Rays, looking to continue his successful late-season run, in which he is 4-0, 2,57 over his last eight starts.

    Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
  5. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments


    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]