TAMPA — No father wants to do this: stand at a podium, choke back tears and beg for someone to come forward with information about his son's killer.
Yet there, again, was Kevin McCall, nearly a year after his 21-year-old son, University of Tampa student Ryan McCall, was gunned down on his walk home from a bar with a friend.
"We're pleading again," Mr. McCall said at a Wednesday news conference announcing a new $50,000 reward in the case. "It's been a tough 11 months for us."
Local law firm Winters and Yonker is putting up the money, which will be available for a year for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in McCall's slaying. Tipsters can contact Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay toll-free at 1-800-873-8477 and remain anonymous.
If the reward isn't claimed within a year, the law firm could extend the claim time or may convert the donation to a scholarship in McCall's honor.
Attorney Bill Winters said the firm was inspired by the $100,000 reward offered before the July 2 surrender of Dontae Morris, accused of killing two police officers. But it was a young legal assistant at the firm, Danielle Dixon, who originally had the idea.
Dixon is friends with Ryan McCall's older brother, Kevin McCall Jr. They graduated from UT the year Ryan McCall began as a freshman.
"It just kind of pulled at my heartstrings," Dixon said. "To get this reward rolling … it felt like a good opportunity to light some sparks in this case."
McCall was shot about 3 a.m. on Aug. 19. He and out-of-town friend Michael Harahan were walking home from the Retreat Lounge near the UT campus when a man jumped out of the bushes at the N Boulevard bridge demanding money.
Police say the shooter is a black man with a dark complexion in his mid 20s with a 1- to 1 1/2-inch afro, possibly in twists, and light facial hair on his chin.
His voice can be heard on Harahan's 911 call, rereleased after the Wednesday news conference.
Tampa police Maj. Tom Wolff said investigators are still chasing "dozens" of leads. Wolff said he's sure someone in the community knows something that could lead police to the killer.
He hopes whoever that is would do the right thing, but if the money is the motivator, that's okay, too.
"This is an important day for the Ryan McCall investigation," Wolff said.
Crime Stoppers offered its own $1,000 reward immediately after the Aug. 19 killing. That reward remains available for information that leads to an arrest.
Kim Wilmath can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2442.