Partly Cloudy81° FULL FORECASTPartly Cloudy81° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page

Dan Sullivan, Times Staff Writer

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan writes about crime, law enforcement and public safety for the Tampa Bay Times. Since joining the Times in 2010, he has covered unsolved crimes, most-wanted fugitives, gun control, and Florida's death row, among other topics. 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


Twitter: @TimesDan

  1. Tampa men sue ex-cop who held them at gunpoint, made anti-Muslim comments


    TAMPA — One afternoon in late 2014, two American citizens of Palestinian descent got into a spat with the owner of a Tampa auto body shop over the price of a detail job. As the argument escalated, the owner's son, a former Pinellas sheriff's deputy named Paul Ryan Young, ran to a car and got a gun.

    He pointed it at the men and threatened to "blow their heads off" and "bury them like Osama bin Laden," a Hillsborough sheriff's deputy reported....

    Samer Samhoury, a 35-year-old from Lutz, speaks with the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida civil rights staff attorney Katherine Heffner on Thursday about his encounter with an employee of Allstar Body Shop of Tampa who pointed a loaded gun at him and his cousin in December 2014. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times] 
  2. USF study suggests Tampa police with body cameras less likely to use force

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Tampa police officers who wear body cameras are less likely to use force than their counterparts who do not wear them, a University of South Florida study suggests.

    Results of the two-year study that examined the effect of the cameras on police behavior were released Wednesday, a day before the Tampa City Council is scheduled to discuss the department's use of them.

    The Tampa Police Department outfitted 60 of its patrol officers with the devices in early 2015. The study compared those officers with another group of 60 who did not wear cameras....

    Members of the Tampa City Council will discuss the Police Department’s use of body cameras at a meeting today. 
  3. Two Tampa area mosque fires ruled arson


    TAMPA — At least two of five fires that have erupted in recent weeks at Tampa area mosques were intentionally set, and probably not by the same person, a federal official said Monday.

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed arson was the cause of a July 27 fire at the Islamic Education Center in the Town 'N Country area. The news came days after Tampa Fire Rescue declared that debris from an Aug. 5 blaze at the Masjid Omar mosque on Busch Boulevard showed traces of gasoline....

    Tampa Fire Rescue crews fight the Aug. 5 fire at the Masjid Omar mosque, now ruled an arson.
  4. Tampa police civilian watchdog panel isn't doing much barking

    Local Government

    TAMPA — For a moment in April, a group of citizens appointed to watchdog the Tampa Police Department appeared poised to flex some muscle; that is, until it learned how little muscle it had.

    An officer's personal car had been impounded by a towing company. In retaliation, she had tried to bump the company off TPD's rotation list.

    Her punishment: a one-day suspension.

    The Citizens Review Board members seemed perplexed. They asked if they could say or do anything about the discipline an officer receives for violating department policy....

    Members of the Tampa police Citizens Review Board listen to community suggestions July 26 as they meet in Tampa’s Old City Hall to discuss a fatal police shooting. The board has reviewed internal affairs investigations of seven cases, none of which were especially controversial.
  5. Lawsuit alleges deceptive business practices by Seven One Seven Parking and Tampa tow company


    TAMPA — A father and son whose car was towed from an Ybor City lot last year are pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Seven One Seven Parking Enterprises and a company it uses for towing services.

    In a complaint filed this week in Hillsborough Circuit Court, the pair accuse Seven One Seven and the Tampa-based Target Recovery and Transport towing company of deceptive business practices. They allege that the companies have cheated thousands of drivers by having them pay modest parking fees, then towing away their vehicles anyway and charging inflated sums for their return....

  6. Tampa police make arrest in beating, robbery of 81-year-old man


    TAMPA — A man police had sought as a "person of interest" in an attack on an 81-year-old retired school guidance counselor was charged Friday with robbery and aggravated battery.

    Carlos Alberto Cordero, 47, was arrested at 2 a.m. at the Meridian Pointe Apartments on Hills­borough Avenue, about a mile south of where Alfred Watton was found seriously injured. Cordero was booked in the Orient Road Jail just after 6 a.m., and his bail was set at $22,500....

    Alfred Watton, 81, suffered skull fractures in the attack.  [Photo courtesy of Barb Kovats Tuttle]
  7. Man, 81, attacked in back yard of north Tampa home

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An 81-year-old retired Hillsborough school guidance counselor lay injured for hours Wednesday, unable to speak or move, after a violent robbery in the back yard of his home in Old Seminole Heights.

    Alfred Watton, ultimately discovered by his wife, remained hospitalized Thursday, while police searched for the attacker who took off in Watton's new van.

    Tampa police would say only that Watton suffered "upper body trauma," but his son, Brian Watton, said the educator had been hit with an object on the back of the head and was in an intensive care unit....

  8. State House | District 61, Dianne "Ms. Dee" Hart v. Sean Shaw v. Walter L. Smith II


    State House | District 61, Democrats

    Three candidates are vying to fill the State House seat being vacated by Ed Narain, who is running for State Senate. Among them is Sean Shaw, a Tampa attorney who previously ran for the seat in 2014. He faces businesswoman Dianne Hart and environmental engineer Walter Smith. The primary will decide the race in this heavily Democratic district in which no other candidates are running. ...

    Walter L. Smith is a candidate for State House District 61.
  9. Woman charged in her baby's death will be sent to mental health center


    The baby, just 13 days old, was blue and cold by the time paramedics arrived Monday.

    A neighbor frantically performed CPR, but it was too late. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the girl had fractures in her skull like "cracks in the sidewalk."

    When deputies arrived at the home, Gualtieri said, they grew suspicious of the mother, 62-year-old Kathleen Steele.

    A widow who gave birth to the first of her three children at age 55, Steele seemed detached, the sheriff said. She was putting away groceries as her newborn lay lifeless....

    In 2009 during her first pregnancy, Kathleen Steele appeared on the Discovery Life show "I'm Pregnant And ... 55 Years Old." The show featured Steele and her husband, Philip, as they strolled along the beach outside their waterfront home. Steele, according to the show, had a "successful career at a financial services firm." [Photo from video]
  10. Tampa police officer arrested for sexual battery during traffic stop


    TAMPA — A fired Tampa police officer is facing a charge of sexual battery after investigators found he touched a woman inappropriately during a Feb. 1 traffic stop.

    Adam York, 42, turned himself in just before 9 a.m. Thursday at the Orient Road Jail. He was released 30 minutes later on $15,000 bail. York was a 13-year veteran of the department when authorities say the sexual battery occurred....

    Adam York was fired on March 4.
  11. Man killed in road rage incident served 10 years in prison for previous traffic fight


    PLANT CITY — Fifteen years ago, Gary Lynn Durham killed a man after arguing in traffic. For that, he did 10 years in prison.

    On Wednesday morning, Durham got into another rush-hour fight. This time, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies said, the other driver killed him.

    It happened before sunrise on a rural stretch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, east of Forbes Road in Plant City....

    Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies investigate Wednesday morning’s fatal shooting of Gary Durham on a rural stretch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Durham drove a black Mazda pickup.
  12. Tampa fugitive wanted in fatal 2012 wrong-way crash arrested in Spain


    TAMPA — For the last three years, William Angel's family and friends have led a personal mission to find the man accused of causing his death.

    They set up a website. They recounted their story for a national TV show. They staged protests, hoping to draw Christopher Ponce out of hiding.

    But when Ponce's arrest finally came Tuesday, it was by chance.

    On Tuesday, the fugitive wanted in the wrong-way crash that killed Angel was arrested in Spain. He is being held in jail there, pending extradition proceedings, which could take months....

    Christopher Ponce was wanted in a deadly 2012 collision.
  13. Man wanted in 2010 Riverview gang shooting arrested in Mexico


    A wanted man who skipped town after a fatal gang-related shooting nearly six years ago in Riverview was arrested this week in Mexico, Hillsborough sheriff's officials said.

    Mario Mercado was 21 when officials said he shot and killed Gregorio Santana and wounded Santana's twin brother, Felix.

    The Santanas, then 23, were members of a gang known as Latin Life, according to sheriff's officials. Mercado was an associate of a gang called West Side....

  14. Plant City teen sentenced to eight years for making child porn


    TAMPA — The defendant was a shy high school student who took nude photographs of a sleeping 6-year-old girl and uploaded them to a website frequented by pedophiles from all over the world.

    His lawyer called him a sheltered youth, then just 16, who didn't know such an act could send him to prison. The prosecutor said the teen was a dangerous predator who needed to be separated from society....

    Jared Henry, 18, was judged guilty of using a 6-year-old relative to make child pornography. 
  15. Mother of three, accused of murder, told police the victim wouldn't pay for abortion


    TAMPA — In the bedroom of the little house with barred windows, a man lay bloodied and dead. Three spent .40-caliber bullet shell casings were scattered near his body.

    That was how James Simmons' mother found him in the early evening of April 25. Neighbors on the east Tampa street told police they had seen a young woman days earlier visiting the house where the 48-year-old man lived alone. She had driven off in his gray Chevrolet Cobalt....

    Aysoni Lewis, 26, left a note for victim James Simmons telling him that she was pregnant.