TAMPA — Police have identified the security guard killed Wednesday night at the Grande Oaks Apartments as 38-year-old Michael Valentin of Tampa.
Valentin, a married father of two young sons, was working as a security guard for CIS Security when he was killed, say police, who are calling the case a homicide.
Police won't say how Valentin was killed, but CIS chief executive officer KC Poulin said Thursday that he was shot to death.
Valentin was armed, but his gun was still in its holster, police said. A police officer already at the complex to check out a 7:40 p.m. report about a fugitive on the grounds discovered Valentin's body lying on a sidewalk outside the clubhouse, a bicycle nearby.
Police say they are continuing to look for suspects.
Valentin was a new hire for CIS, joining in October, the company said.
He worked as a "peace officer" with the New York City Department of Homeless Services from June 2001 to August 2010. That $800 million public agency formed its own police force in 1997 to improve safety in the city's homeless shelters.
Valentin completed a basic course for peace officers who do not carry guns, CIS said. He was a sergeant with the force when he left in 2010 and moved his family to Florida.
CIS said Valentin was assigned to Grande Oaks, located in a high-crime east Tampa neighborhood, due to his "community-oriented mind-set and experience while working with the homeless in New York."
In Florida, Valentin served as an unarmed security officer from September 2010 until joining CIS in October. He had attended and completed Florida-mandated security license training through the S2 Safety and Intelligence Institute and received his armed security officer license, CIS said.
Wednesday marked the second time in less than two years that a CIS security officer working at a Tampa Bay-area apartment complex has been killed.
In May 2011, Matthew F. Little, 26, of Brandon was shot at a St. Petersburg apartment complex. Police have accused a gang member of the killing. Little was the first officer to die in the line of duty for the 20-year-old CIS, a private Largo firm whose 300 officers provide security in Tampa Bay, Orlando and Jacksonville.
"We're always aware of the dangers out there," Poulin said Thursday. "But it doesn't make it any easier."
By the nature of the job, security officers are patrolling some of the area's most dangerous neighborhoods, he said.
"These are high-crime environments," Poulin said. "It's not like some condo at the beach."
And security guards are often the first line of defense in dangerous situations, he said.
"You're the first responder on the scene," he said, "the first person to confront a problem and have to deal with it."
Poulin did not know Valentin personally but said his supervisor spoke highly of him.
Valentin is survived by his wife and two sons, ages 4 and 9.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.