1. Photos

Photos: 20 years ago, Hank Earl Carr went on a murderous rampage

On May 19, 1998, Hank Earl Carr took the lives of three Bay area law enforcement officers.

Carr, a convicted felon, was under investigation for the death of a 4-year-old boy when he escaped using a hidden handcuff key. He killed Tampa police Detectives Randy Bell and Ricky Childers, led police on a harrowing chase, then barricaded himself in a Hernando County gas station while taking a hostage. After an hours long standoff, he released the hostage and killed himself. Many of the day’s events were chronicled by photographers from the then-St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune, work now contained in the Tampa Bay Times archives.

The tragedy unfolds

Tampa police Detective Randy Bell (right) prepares to take then-suspect Hank Earl Carr (left) into a house at 709 E Crenshaw St., Tampa, for questioning during the investigation of a 4-year-old boy's death. [Times (1998)]
Tampa police Detective Ricky Childers checks over one of the guns found at 709 E Crenshaw St. while investigating the death of Joey Bennett, a 4-year-boy who was shot in the head. [Times (1998)]
Law enforcement personnel enter a Shell gas station on State Road 50, just east of Interstate 75. Hank Earl Carr shot and killed three law enforcement officers, barricaded himself inside the station and took a hostage. He later released hostage Stephanie Kramer. [Times (1998)]
Brooksville law enforcement officers run a hostage to safety at a Shell Station where a standoff ended with killer Hank Earl Carr dying from a gunshot wound. [Miami Herald (1998)]
Law enforcement personnel assemble on State Road 50, just east of Interstate 75, after a man who shot and killed three law enforcement officers held a hostage inside a Shell gas station. [Times (1998)]
Deputy Jim Campbell points to the bullet holes in the windshield of his Pasco County sheriff's patrol car during a news conference. Campbell was pursuing Hank Earl Carr along Interstate 75 in Pasco County when Carr shot several rounds at him. Campbell was injured but not seriously. [Times (1998)]
Crime scene technicians from the Hernando County Sheriff's Office examine bullet holes in the pickup truck driven by Hank Earl Carr. [Times (1998)]
Tampa homicide detectives escort Hank Earl Carr's then-girlfriend, Bernice Alane Bowen, to a waiting patrol car outside police headquarters. She was initially booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on child abuse charges. [Times (1998)]

Faces of the tragedy

Tampa police homicide Detectives Ricky Childers (left) and Randy Bell (right) were shot and killed while transporting then-suspect Hank Earl Carr. [Times archives]
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James B. Crooks was killed as he tried to stop Hank Earl Carr, who identified himself as Frank Earl Carr. [Times archives]
Hank Earl Carr was initially under investigation in the shooting death of a 4-year-old boy. [Times (1998)]
Bernice Bowen, mother of victim Joey Bennett, looks up at the ceiling and sobs during a hearing in Hillsborough Circuit Judge Claudia R. Isom's courtroom. At this hearing, the Department of Children and Families asked Judge Isom to open the child abuse investigative files against Hank Earl Carr. [Times (1998)]
An October 1988 Sarasota County sheriff's mug shot of Hank Earl Carr after being booked for assault on a officer, resisting arrest, possession of cocaine and drug equipment. [Times archives]
Family photo of Hank Earl Carr holding his son, Justin, in front of his mother's Tampa home in 1990. [Times archives]
Bernice Bowen was Hank Earl Carr's final girlfriend and the mother of the 4-year old boy, Joey Bennett, who died of a gunshot wound. [Times archives]

The funeral

A procession heads east on the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge for the funerals of Tampa police Detectives Ricky Childers and Randy Bell. [Times (1998)]
Portraits of three slain law enforcement officers, Florida Highway Patrol trooper James Crooks (top), Tampa Police Department Detectives Rick Childers (left) and Randy Bell (right), made up the centerpiece of a memorial outside TPD's headquarters. [Associated Press]
Hundreds of police cars are shown parked outside the Tampa Convention Center for the funerals of Tampa Police Department Detectives Randy Bell and Ricky Childers. [Associated Press]
Seven-year old Richard Harris salutes the procession as it drives along 39th Street just north of Adamo Drive for the funerals of Ricky Childers and Randy Bell. [Times (1998)]
Donna Bell, center, wife of slain Tampa police Detective Randy Bell, is escorted while leaving the memorial service for her husband and Tampa police Detective Ricky Childers. [Associated Press]
A fellow trooper consoles Troop Commander Major Morris Leggett following the funeral for Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James B. Crooks. [Times (1998)]
The caskets of Tampa police Detectives Randy Bell (left) and Ricky Childers rest at their funeral services held at the Tampa Convention Center. [Times (1998)]
Tampa police officers fire a 21-gun salute during the funerals for Detectives Ricky Childers and Randy Bell. [Times (1998)]
Detective John Newman plays Taps for the funerals of Detectives Rick Childers and Randy Bell. [Pool photo]
Members of the Florida Highway Patrol honor guard escort the body of Trooper James B. Crooks from the John Boy Auditorium in Clewiston. [Times (1998)]
Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, Col. Charles C. Hall, presents a flag to Vivian Crooks, the mother of slain Trooper James B. Crooks. [Times (1998)]
An unidentified woman hugs a police officer at the funeral services at the Tampa Convention Center for the two slain Tampa police detectives. [Times (1998)]

The trial

This is the type of handcuff key that was used by Hank Earl Carr to escape. [Times (1998)]
Then-Tampa police Lt. George McNamara, (center) consoles Donna Bell (right), wife of slain TPD Detective Randy Bell, while holding the hand of Barbara Stanton (left), wife of TPD Detective Rick Stanton, as the verdict is read during the Bernice Bowen's trial. [Times (1999)]
Bernice Bowen weeps during her sentencing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. Bowen was found guilty of three counts of accessory after the fact to first degree murder, one count of accessory to first degree manslaughter, and one count of accessory to escape. [Times (1999)]


The Shell gas station on SR 50 and I-75 quietly reopened. It was closed for more than 11 weeks while damage from the standoff with Hank Earl Carr was repaired. Most employees returned to work, including Stephanie Kramer, who was held hostage in the station for four hours. [Times (1998)]
A truck exits I-75 from the northbound lane at State Road 54 where a sign was erected to serve as a memorial for slain Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James B. Crooks. [Times (1999)]