ST. PETERSBURG — A man known in his neighborhood as "the hoarder" was found dead with a gun wound to his chest early Friday morning inside his burning house, police said.
Firefighters responded to the fire at 8074 23rd Ave. N about 7 a.m., finding Bruce Meredith, 61, unconscious. He was carried outside and pronounced dead, according to reports by the St. Petersburg Police Department.
Police are investigating the death as a possible suicide.
Detectives who searched the house said Meredith, who had lived there for decades, was a hoarder.
"There were all kinds of things — lots and lots of newspapers," said Mike Petz, spokesman for the Police Department.
Meredith's next-door neighbor, Bret Campbell, 29, grew up knowing Meredith as a retired Vietnam veteran. He mowed Meredith's lawn, he said, and Meredith's best friend would come over, and the two older men would holler at the young man in a friendly way — "like two gramps," said Campbell. When Meredith's good friend died, Campbell said, Meredith changed.
"He never came out anymore," Campbell said. "He just kind of turned into a ghost."
Alison Barnwell can be reached at (727) 893-8804 or [email protected] On Twitter: alison_barnwell.