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Slain counselor loved helping others

The son of Brazilian native Sergio Guedes says the drug treatment counselor's work involved helping people in trouble.

The only reason Sergio Guedes was even working Sunday morning was that he planned to take next Sunday off. He was going home to Brazil to visit family.

Guedes worked two jobs to support his wife and three children. Nights, he served dinner at CK's, the restaurant at the Tampa International Airport Marriott hotel. Days, and they started before dawn, he helped people kick heroin and painkillers as a drug counselor at the Tampa Metro Treatment center on Busch Boulevard.

That's where an attacker confronted Guedes, 46, Sunday morning and shot him in the head.

Monday morning, the Guedes family mourned their loss and recalled a man who gave his all.

"He liked to help people," said Guedes' son, 23-year-old Michael Meleiro-Guedes. "People who had problems. The sad thing is he was so happy this week. He hadn't been to Brazil in 10 years, and he was going to go there next Sunday."

An extra passport photo of Guedes sat on an end table, resting on a newspaper opened to the obituary section. Same size as the pictures of the recently dead.

Meleiro-Guedes said his mother did not learn that her husband had been killed until nearly 12 hours after it happened. Marlene Guedes, who speaks little English, told him that police had been knocking on doors and calling throughout the day, but she could not determine their business.

"My mom got kind of scared because she didn't know what they wanted," Meleiro-Guedes said.

They were trying to bring bad news: Guedes was at the treatment center when a well-dressed man wearing a fedora pointed a gun at him and forced him to knock on a locked door to a room where the drugs and money are kept. A female employee opened the door door partially, realized what was happening, closed the door and locked it. Guedes and his attacker struggled. The woman heard a single shot.

Guedes died at Tampa General Hospital. Temple Terrace police think the assailant might have been trying to get the drug methadone or cash in a robbery.

By about 10 p.m., police had found Marlene Guedes and relayed the news of her husband's death with the help of her 11-year-old son Peter, who translated, Meleiro-Guedes said.

"I had been to dinner, and she called and told me they were calling back," Meleiro-Guedes said. "I got the number and called to ask what they wanted, but they didn't want to give information like that on the phone. So I came flying home and as soon as I pulled over, I saw a guy holding her, (she was) screaming. She kept saying my dad is dead, my dad is dead. And then it hit me, and I was crying."

Sergio Guedes was from Rio de Janeiro, and Marlene was from Sao Paolo. The couple came to the United States 21 years ago and moved several times between Seattle and Tampa. Meleiro-Guedes said his mom liked Seattle, but his dad liked Tampa.

They moved back to north Tampa about six years ago. Meleiro-Guedes said his father had just celebrated his first anniversary at Tampa Metro Treatment and had worked at several different counseling jobs when the family lived in Seattle.

"It's like my mom said; he was a very hard worker and a wonderful father to all of us kids," Meleiro-Guedes said. "And a wonderful husband. Every time I needed help with something, he always picked me up."

Working all those hours, Guedes had little time for avocations, but when he had a rare day off, he'd take his kids to a Chuck E Cheese's game and pizza parlor or play with them in the yard of their home.

"Seriously, he barely had time for everything," Meleiro-Guedes said. "My mom even mentioned that it had been a while since they'd gone out."

When they did, Guedes liked to take his wife to Red Lobster for his favorite dish, broiled lobster. That's where Meleiro-Guedes took his mom Monday afternoon after the two identified Guedes' body.

That grim chore completed, Meleiro-Guedes had to arrange to change the locks on all the doors of the house because the man who killed his father also stole his keychain.

He hopes the killer is caught soon, Meleiro-Guedes said as a newscast ran stories about the tragedy. But he hopes to never share the same air with the man. "I don't want to be around somebody like that, somebody who ruins people's lives," he said.