Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Urge to kill prompted Clearwater man to fatally shoot acquaintance, police say

CLEARWATER — Authorities say a man whose body was found behind a vacant restaurant last month was killed by a friend who told police he wanted to murder someone.

Michael Stephen McKinney, 37, of 2095 Sunset Point Road, No. 1906, was charged with first-degree murder on Friday. He's accused of shooting 40-year-old Casey Steven Garber multiple times.

"Apparently, it was just something he wanted to do and he felt the victim would be the best target," said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts.

McKinney and Garber were acquaintances who were using and selling prescription drugs together, according to Clearwater police.

On June 27, a woman walking her dog called police after she found a man's body behind the closed Dogwater Cafe at the Clearwater Executive Golf Course at 2506 Countryside Blvd.

The man was identified as Garber, and an autopsy showed he suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Clearwater police detectives learned McKinney and Garber were together at the golf course at the time of the murder, which they believe happened June 25.

There is no indication the two had an argument before Garber was shot, Watts said.

McKinney has been in the Pinellas County Jail since a July 7 arrest on charges of possession of oxycodone, criminal mischief, burglary, possession of burglary tools, and loitering and prowling.

In that case, investigated by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, McKinney is accused of trying to break into the East Lake home of a 29-year-old man and his girlfriend twice on July 7.

According to the Sheriff's Office, the couple caught images on a home surveillance system of McKinney, whom they knew, cutting the screen of their back patio earlier in the day. McKinney tried to enter the home through a back door, but couldn't, and left, the Sheriff's Office said.

Later that day, deputies were called to the home when McKinney returned. Deputies said the homeowner caught an image of McKinney using some sort of tool to cut the power cord to the surveillance system.

Deputies found McKinney close to the home. He had two wire cutters, a lock-picking set, 23 narcotic pain pills and a pocketknife on him, according to the Sheriff's Office. Deputies also found a loaded Ruger .380-caliber handgun hidden in some mulch near where they found McKinney. It was later determined that the gun had been stolen from Largo, the Sheriff's Office said.

McKinney has previous convictions in Pinellas County on charges of retail theft and obtaining property with a worthless check, according to court records. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. On Friday, he was being held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail.

As for Garber, his last known address was in Trinity in Pasco County, but he had been staying with various friends in the area, Watts said. He was convicted of driving under the influence in 1998 in Pinellas and was sentenced to drug offender probation in Hillsborough County in 2000 after a cocaine trafficking conviction. Relatives of Garber's could not be located Friday.

Rita Farlow can be reached at or (727) 445-4157.

Urge to kill prompted Clearwater man to fatally shoot acquaintance, police say 07/15/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2011 7:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ernest Hooper: Hillsborough marks 100th anniversary of historic photo collection


    Everyone ends up with a favorite

    Or two or three or 10.

    Rest assured, however, no one who adores Tampa Bay, appreciates art or cherishes history can explore the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection without storing at least one snapshot in the mental scrapbook.

    Part of the Burgert Brothers collection now featured through the Hillsborough Public Library shows a beer garden on Central Avenue in Tampa from July 1942. [Burgert Brothers collection]
  2. Tonight: St. Petersburg's six City Council candidates face off


    ST. PETERSBURG — Politics took a break in Hurricane Irma, but now it's time for City Council races to get going. The Council of Neighborhood Associations is set to host a candidate forum for the six candidates vying for three council seats at stake in November.

  3. Rick and Tom podcast: Annoyance with the Cubs fans at Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tom Jones talks about how he shares Chris Archer's annoyance with all of the Cubs fans at Tropicana Field for Joe Maddon's return in the latest edition of our Rick and Tom podcast.

    "W" flags fly in the stands after the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Oops: Florida Gators sent out wrong 2018 football schedule


    Well this is awkward.

    The Florida Gators, it turns out, released an incorrect 2018 football schedule on Tuesday. What they sent out (and I posted) differed from the master schedule …

  5. Fennelly: Joe Maddon's return must be bittersweet for Rays fans


    If you are a Rays fan, you might have left Tropicana Field a little down on Tuesday night.

    Joe Maddon got out at just the right time, as it turned out, Martin Fennelly writes.