Dan Sullivan, Times Staff Writer

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan covers breaking news and general assignment stories for the Tampa Bay Times. His reporting often focuses on law enforcement and criminal justice issues. Since joining the Times in 2010, he has covered everything from fugitive monkeys and stolen swine to burning buildings and Florida's death row. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, he is a 2006 graduate of the University of Tampa, where he earned a degree in writing with a focus in journalism.

Phone: (813) 226-3386

Email: dsullivan@tampabay.com

Twitter: @TimesDan

  1. Tampa police detective fired amid accusations of criminal conduct

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — A Tampa police detective was fired Thursday amid a federal grand jury investigation into potential criminal conduct, police Chief Jane Castor said.

    Detective Eric Houston, who worked on some of the department's highest profile cases, was dismissed several weeks after a department investigator found Houston was involved in suspected criminal activity, Castor said. She refused to give specifics about the accusations but said the information was turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office....

    Former Detective Eric Houston has worked on some of Tampa’s most high-profile cases.
  2. Man dies after crashing into pole in Clair-Mel


    A man died Wednesday morning when he crashed a van into a power pole in Clair-Mel, according to Hillsborough sheriff's deputies.

    Manuel Blanco, 47, was headed south in a 1999 Plymouth Voyager on 78th Street, just south of Palm River Road, about 8:30 a.m. when he veered onto the west shoulder and crashed into the wooden pole, deputies said. Blanco, of Wishing Well Lane, was not wearing a seat belt. He was pulled from the van and taken to a local hospital, where he died....

  3. State sees lowest crime rate in 43 years, FDLE stats show



    Crime rate in Florida is lowest in decades

    Florida had a lower crime rate in 2013 than it has seen in the past 43 years, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    Data collected as part of the FDLE's annual Uniform Crime Report show the overall crime rate dropped 4.7 percent, from a total of 725,987 incidents in 2012 to 698,607 last year. That happened as the state's population increased by about 185,000. The rate represents the total number of crimes per 100,000 people....

  4. New shuttle makes commute safer for Middleton High students


    TAMPA — The first shuttle pulled out of the lot at Meridian Pointe Apartments about five minutes before 7 a.m., just as 16-year-old Elijah Collins came jogging behind it.

    A security guard yelled for the shuttle to stop. But Collins said it was okay, he would catch the next one in a few minutes.

    For Collins, a ninth-grader at Middleton High School, the new shuttle makes getting to school on time much easier than having to brave the traffic on Hillsborough Avenue....

  5. Dog that vanished after car crash found in South Tampa

    Human Interest


    Nina, a German shepherd mix that disappeared after her owner was injured in a car crash Thursday night near Palm River, has been found safe, according to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

    Amy Abdnour, the co-owner of a soon-to-open paintball business on Plant Avenue in South Tampa, spotted the dog wandering the grounds there on Saturday. The business is about 6 miles from where Nina vanished....

    Luke Macner was reunited with Nina at Tampa General Hospital on Tuesday morning. Nina went missing Thursday, hours after she was adopted by the Army veteran, who picked her up at the Humane Society. The dog was found Saturday, 6 miles from where she vanished. For video, go to tbtim.es/2br.
  6. Tampa police questioning suspect in animal clinic arson


    TAMPA — Police on Monday were questioning a suspect in an arson fire that killed three cats early Saturday at the offices of the Animal Coalition of Tampa Bay.

    Though he has not been charged with setting the blaze, Terrod Arrington, 33, visited the animal clinic several times in the days before the fire, police said. During one visit, he became angry and shoved one of the clinic's employees, leading authorities to charge him with battery....

    Some of the damage from the fire at the Animal Coalition of Tampa on Saturday, April 19, 2014 in Tampa. Early Saturday morning firefighters responded to a call at the Animal Coalition of Tampa and extinguished the fire, according to Tampa Fire Rescue. When firefighters searched the building, they found that three cats had died in the fire.
  7. Man faces gun charges in connection with Tampa park shooting


    TAMPA — Police have arrested a man they say was carrying a gun near the scene of an Easter afternoon shooting that left two men dead in a Tampa park, but as of Monday no one had been charged with the killings.

    Ronald L. Milliron, 22 of Tampa, faces several gun-related charges for having a pistol in his jacket, according to an arrest report. The gun, police said, was one used in the fatal shooting. But detectives are still working to determine how the violence transpired....

    Bystanders comfort one another near the shooting at Barnes Park in Tampa on Sunday. Two victims were in critical condition.
  8. Eddie, MacDill's bomb-sniffing dog, retires with full military honors


    TAMPA — The brown dog with the black face stood panting, his eyes darting around the room at dozens of faces and camera lenses. On one side of him was a U.S. Air Force flag. On the other, an American flag, and his handler, Staff Sgt. Shannon Hutto, who held tight to a leash secured to a harness bearing the words "K-9 Unit."

    Friday was the last official day on the job for Eddie, the 5-year-old Belgian Malinois who, in his nearly half a decade as a military working dog, became one of the most famous faces at MacDill Air Force Base, earning the reputation of a hero....

    A few dozen troops attended Friday’s retirement bash for Eddie, who was assigned to MacDill’s 6th Security Forces Squadron. He’s credited with saving a platoon in Afghanistan.
  9. A trip, a truck and a big bill: Man contends with $624 Tampa airport parking fee


    TAMPA — In late February, Richard Hettinga trekked from his home in Palmetto to Tampa International Airport for a trip to Alaska. He had never flown out of there before, and when he arrived to catch his early morning flight he parked his Ford F-150 pickup truck in the long-term parking garage.

    Big mistake.

    One long journey later, he returned Sunday night to find himself stuck with a parking bill for $624 — the sum total of the $16 daily fees for the 39 days he was gone. Hettinga, 63, a retired carpenter who lives on a fixed income, had less than $100 in his pocket and no way to pay the bill until a Social Security deposit came Wednesday....

  10. Tampa police investigating shooting at Marathon gas station


    TAMPA — Police are investigating a shooting that happened early Wednesday at a Marathon gas station in East Tampa.

    Gregory Vaulx Jr., 28, and Kenneth Mosley, 55, began arguing about 8 a.m. at the station at 3745 N 50th St., police said.

    Mosley was inside the station and Vaulx was outside, blocking the door with his bicycle, according to police.

    The argument turned into a fight, and bystanders called police. Mosley pulled a gun before the two men began to struggle with each other, police said. At some point, the gun went off....

    An Tampa police officer wraps up caution tape Wednesday after a shooting at a Marathon gas station at 3745 N 50th St. in Tampa. One person was taken to the hospital.
  11. Police investigate mutilated animals found by South Tampa road


    TAMPA — Police are investigating after a set of mutilated animals were found Tuesday on the side of a South Tampa street. Someone called Tampa police after finding the animals about noon near the corner of Manhattan Place and Fairview Heights, officials said. The animals — a goat, a lamb, and three chickens — all had their heads cut off, police said. The heads were lying next to the bodies. "We're investigating whether it was some sort of ritualistic activity," said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis....

  12. Hillsborough leaders mark launch of film commission

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — When movie makers train their lenses on Tampa Bay, the region's tourism economy will feel it.

    That was the theme of a ceremony held Friday in the lobby of the Tampa Theatre to mark the official relaunch of the Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission.

    Standing on a stage amid a bright spotlight in the historic building's lobby, business and political leaders touted film as a potential boon for the region....

  13. Pastor of Brandon church accused of inappropriate touching


    BRANDON — The pastor of a Spanish-language church in Brandon is facing sex crimes charges after authorities said he had inappropriate contact with three female parishioners, including two minors.

    Francisco Rios, 44, the lead pastor at the Casa de Amor church on Windhorst Road in Brandon, was arrested early Friday on three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation.

    The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office began investigating Rios in August after two girls, ages 12 and 17, and a woman, 43, came forward alleging that Rios had touched them in an inappropriate manner on separate occasions, authorities said....

    Francisco Rios is lead pastor at the Casa de Amor church on Windhorst Road.
  14. Tampa police investigate two shootings within hours, miles of each other


    TAMPA — Police were investigating two separate shootings that happened late Wednesday night in the Sulphur Springs and Rowlett Park areas of Tampa.

    The first shooting happened about 9:22 p.m. inside the Garden Terrace apartment complex at 8725 Del Rey Court, police said. A man, whose identity was not disclosed, was loitering in the complex when someone shot him multiple times in his arm and wrist, according to a news release....

  15. Gibsonton woman's January death ruled a homicide


    RIVERVIEW — A Gibsonton woman whose nude body was found in January behind a Riverview shopping plaza was the victim of a homicide, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner.

    An autopsy and toxicology examination after the Jan. 18 death of 21-year-old Meaghan E. Casady revealed she was intentionally killed, the medical examiner's office said Monday. But authorities did not disclose her exact cause of death....