Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

World War II veteran, 87, injured in Tampa home invasion

TAMPA — Reggie Holland, 55, has known his next-door neighbor Tom Parks since Holland was a kid, having grown up in the same house in the 500 block of W Ross Avenue.

"He's a very happy-go-lucky man — the kind of neighbor you need to have nowadays," Holland said of the 87-year-old Parks, a veteran of World War II. "We try to look out for each other."

Late Sunday night, Holland's concern for his neighbor's well-being thwarted a home invasion and possibly saved the old man from further harm.

About 11:24 p.m., Holland said he heard Parks get out of his car and open the back door to his house. Then he heard a scream and the door slammed shut.

He phoned Parks but got no answer, so he called police.

Minutes later, officers surrounded the house and made their way inside, where they arrested John Edward Harris, 44, on charges of home invasion, armed kidnapping and battery on a victim over age 65.

Parks was entering his home when Harris approached him from behind, pulled a knife and beat him, according to police.

When officers arrived, Harris ran through the house trying to find a way out, police said. Officers found cash and Parks' diamond ring in Harris' pocket.

Parks, who has knee problems from arthritis and walks with two canes, his neighbor said, broke his right hip during the struggle and suffered cuts to his face. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he underwent surgery, police said.

It was the third time in nearly as many weeks that Parks has been the target of a burglary.

His home was broken into on Sept. 22 and 24, said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

"We are investigating if this same suspect may have been involved in the two burglaries," Davis said.

Holland said Parks told him the same man had been targeting him. "He'd been watching Mr. Tom," Holland said.

On Sept. 24, Parks had arrived home to find a man breaking into his home, Holland said. When Parks questioned him, the man claimed that he had seen a different man breaking into the home and had scared him away.

Parks purchased a security system after the first two incidents but turned it off as he entered the house Sunday night.

He has lived alone since his wife died many years ago. After that, the Holland family made a weekly tradition of bringing dinner to Parks on Sunday nights.

Parks, too, would bring his neighbors food and other gifts. At Christmas, the families exchanged Christmas cards. Holland would take Parks' garbage to the street and retrieve his morning paper for him.

The neighborhood sits just across the N Boulevard bridge from downtown Tampa.

"It's real quiet here other than this guy pickin' on Mr. Tom," Holland said.

Dan Sullivan can be reached at (813) 226-3321 or

World War II veteran, 87, injured in Tampa home invasion 10/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 11, 2010 11:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body..
  3. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  4. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  5. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]