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40 years ago, two Tampa fire fighters were killed by a former colleague

On Wednesday, the Tampa Firefighters Museum held a memorial to honor them.
Pictures of Tampa firefighter Isaac Royal, on left, and Tampa District Fire Chief Franz Warner on display during a Firefighter memorial service at the Tampa Fire Museum.
Pictures of Tampa firefighter Isaac Royal, on left, and Tampa District Fire Chief Franz Warner on display during a Firefighter memorial service at the Tampa Fire Museum. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Aug. 4

TAMPA — Friday marks the end of Franz Warner Jr.’s 27-year career with Tampa Fire Rescue.

“I’m retiring,” the 50-year-old chief of Tampa’s District 3, who goes by Glenn, said. And that, he added, is something that his father, District 1 Fire Chief Franz Warner Sr., and firefighter Isaac Royal “did not get to do.”

It was 40 years ago that a former Tampa firefighter walked into Tampa Fire Station No. 1 and killed the two men.

On Wednesday afternoon, the anniversary of the killings, the Tampa Firefighters Museum held a memorial to honor them.

“It’s heartwarming and touching that they did this,” said Bobby Royal, 57. “Forty years later, they still remember my older brother’s sacrifice.”

Bill Wade, a 64-year-old retired Tampa fire captain who is now president of the downtown museum’s board, planned the memorial.

“It is a significant piece of not only the department’s history, but the city’s,” he said. “It is appropriate that we remember those affected that day.”

A Tampa Tribune box on display in the Tampa Firefighters Museum. The headline reports the murder of two firefighters in 1981.
A Tampa Tribune box on display in the Tampa Firefighters Museum. The headline reports the murder of two firefighters in 1981. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Franz Warner Sr. and Isaac Royal’s names already adorned a memorial wall inside the museum, located across the street from Station No. 1. A Tampa Tribune box in the museum displays the headline from the following day.

Related: In 1975, Tampa police officer Richard Cloud was killed. Now we know why.

The killer, 26-year-old Anthony D’Arcangelo, had been fired from District 1 in November 1980 after working there less than a month. According to news archives, colleagues recalled D’Arcangelo saying he “wasn’t above mass murder.”

On Aug. 4, 1981, he returned to the station.

Wearing blue coveralls and a motorcycle helmet, he walked into Tampa Fire Station No. 1, cut an emergency telephone line and opened fire.

Franz Warner Sr., 40 and a 15-year veteran, was shot in the heart. He died at the scene. Isaac Royal, 26 and with one year’s experience, was taken to the hospital to undergo surgery for a stomach wound and died five days later.

Tampa Fire Rescue District 3 Chief Franz Glenn Warner Jr. addresses the audience during a firefighter memorial service for his father, District 1 Fire Chief Franz Warner, and others at the Tampa Fire Museum.
Tampa Fire Rescue District 3 Chief Franz Glenn Warner Jr. addresses the audience during a firefighter memorial service for his father, District 1 Fire Chief Franz Warner, and others at the Tampa Fire Museum. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Firefighter Richard Barrett was shot in the lower back and survived.

Building supervisor Charlie Pasco was shot at, but escaped unharmed.

A bullet hole is still in the garage door of the downtown fire station at 808 E. Zack St.

“The impact is obvious,” said Warner, who was 10 at the time. “It rocks your world and turns everything upside down. He was a great dad. He always found time to do dad stuff, whether it be fishing or baseball or vacations.”

The killer was arrested that night at his home. The Royal family believed Isaac Royal would survive.

“He held our hands in the hospital room,” said Royal, who was 16 at the time. “He told us that he was going to be okay.”

Royal said when Isaac died, it was like losing a second father. His older brother taught him to swim, ride a bike and drive, helped with homework and took him to sports practice.

The firefighters were “shocked and concerned,” said Wade, who, at the time, was a “fill-in guy” covering shifts throughout the city. “Firefighters are typically seen as community helpers. We’re not the ones that people shoot at.”

For a “short while” after the shooting, Wade said, the fire houses were locked to the public. They had previously had an open-door policy. “People would come in all day long asking for directions or to get their blood pressure checked.”

D’Arcangelo was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to serve at least 50 years, according to news archives. Warner said D’Arcangelo remains in prison.

Bobby Royal addresses the audience during a firefighter memorial service for his brother Tampa firefighter Issac Royal and others at the Tampa Fire Museum.
Bobby Royal addresses the audience during a firefighter memorial service for his brother Tampa firefighter Issac Royal and others at the Tampa Fire Museum. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Warner joined the fire department in 1994.

“I think that was sort of my destiny,” he said. “For whatever reason, this was all God’s plan. I could have chosen to be a victim. Instead, I chose to rise above it.”

Five years later, he was among the fire fighters to answer a call when a Tampa man had a heart attack.

Upon arriving, he realized it was Isaac Royal’s father.

He died, but Royal said that moment proved that the families “are forever intertwined with one another. We will always be family.”