Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Public safety

Police identify body of man, 38, found in bushes

ST. PETERSBURG — A day after a body was discovered in bushes at a business complex off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N, police identified the man as 38-year-old Robert John Harger.

It was not immediately clear Friday how Harger died, though police have said it did not seem to be the result of a violent crime.

Harger's brother, Nikolas, said that it did not appear he was robbed because his wallet and personal effects were all on him when he was discovered Thursday morning.

The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, police said.

Ryan Walton, 26, was one of two men who discovered the body on the side of Executive Center Drive N amid brush and palm trees. Walton wondered Friday who the man was.

"When I saw him, all I could think was, 'Wow, I can't believe this is happening,'" he said. "It was totally bizarre. I couldn't imagine how he got there."

Walton is a firefighter and Iraq War veteran.

"I've been around death a lot, but for me to come across something like that while I was going about my everyday routine … it was shocking," he said.

The other man, who was walking to work in the complex, called 911, but Walton said he knew it was too late to help the victim.

Police said Harger was a transient, but Nikolas Harger said his brother had been living with a girlfriend in Redington Shores. He said his brother loved the beach and loved to cook. He was working as a waiter.

"He had a big heart," Nikolas Harger said.

Harger leaves behind two siblings and a grown daughter whom he hadn't spoken to in several years.

The family was "in shock" Friday after Harger's sudden death.

According to state records, Harger had a history of drug offenses and assault charges. His family said he had cleaned up his act in recent years.

Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804.

Comments
Deputies conducting homicide investigation in Tampa

Deputies conducting homicide investigation in Tampa

Hillsborough County deputies are conducting a homicide investigation after a man was found dead in the Grant Park area of Tampa early Wednesday morning.Deputies say the man was found in the 3700 block of Carroway Street.The circumstances surrounding ...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Status hearing today for suspect in Seminole Heights killings

Status hearing today for suspect in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — A status hearing will be held Wednesday morning for the man accused of four killings in Seminole Heights.Howell Emanuel Donaldson III was arrested Nov. 30, hours after he gave a bag that held a gun to a fellow employee of an Ybor City McDonal...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds to announce changes to immigration detention policies

Pinellas sheriff, feds to announce changes to immigration detention policies

Law enforcement and federal immigration officials will announce today new efforts around the use of immigration detainers.The detainers, or requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that local jails hold onto people suspected of being in...
Published: 01/17/18

St. Pete officer suspended for month after pushing concert guard

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was suspended for a month after he pushed a security guard at a summer concert in Tampa, according to St. Petersburg police.It could have been worse: Chief Tony Holloway determined Officer Curtis Wright could have be...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

PORT RICHEY — The casino boat operator whose shuttle caught fire Sunday, leaving one passenger dead, says it does not know what could have caused the blaze.But federal records show the company, now called Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, had another boat...
Published: 01/16/18
Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

TAMPA — Hillsborough County officials fired a Fire Rescue medic Tuesday after an internal investigation concluded he had "unwavering loyalty" to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club — the state’s dominant biker gang.Clinton Neal Walker, 33, of Bradenton is th...
Published: 01/16/18

Man shot, runs for help to Bahama Breeze with suspects following

TAMPA — Attackers shot a Tampa man Monday night as he sat in his car then chased him as he fled to a nearby restaurant to get help, Tampa police said.The victim was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.The incident occurre...
Published: 01/16/18

Man pistol-whipped resisting home invasion in Wimauma

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office is looking for three men who broke into a Wimauma mobile home Tuesday morning, beat one of the residents with a pistol, stole cash and carjacked a vehicle to make their getaway.The incident occurred around 5:4...
Published: 01/16/18
Here’s the backstory of the Pasco casino boat operator whose ship caught on fire

Here’s the backstory of the Pasco casino boat operator whose ship caught on fire

By Zachary T. SampsonTimes Staff WriterLong before a shuttle ship from Tropical Breeze Casino caught fire Sunday off the coast of Port Richey, leaving one passenger dead, the company behind the operation was a source of controversy.The casino operato...
Published: 01/16/18
Florida love triangle led to a murder-for-hire plot, police say. But the wrong woman was killed.

Florida love triangle led to a murder-for-hire plot, police say. But the wrong woman was killed.

Heartbreak and jealously were the twin engines driving the scheme, police would later say. Ishnar Marie Lopez-Ramos was in love. The object of the 35-year-old Floridian’s affection, however, was tangled up with another woman. To solve her hear...
Published: 01/16/18