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  1. Pinellas

Fired Indian Rocks Beach employee struck colleagues, wanted to ram truck into City Hall, deputies say

Errol Sylvester Gray, 52, was arrested on four counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle and single counts of aggravated battery, resisting an officer without violence and misdemeanor battery. He assaulted two Indian Rocks Beach city employees and tried to run over four more after learning he would be fired, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. [PCSO]
Published Jul. 10

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — A city supervisor who learned he was being fired Wednesday went on a rampage at City Hall, assaulting two colleagues and then aiming a city truck at a group of employees outside, forcing them to retreat into the building, deputies said.

Solid waste supervisor Errol Sylvester Gray, 52, later told deputies that he intended to ram the Ford F-450 flatbed truck into City Hall and drive it into the office of city manager Gregg Mims.

Gray was arrested on four felony counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, one count each of aggravated battery and resisting an officer without violence and misdemeanor battery, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

"We were all shook up," Mayor Joanne "Cookie" Kennedy said. "We do have a safe city and want all our employees to be safe."

The incident took place at about 9:03 a.m. at City Hall, 1507 Bay Palm Blvd. Director of public services Dean Scharmen told Gray that he was being fired, according to Mims.

Gray became angry, deputies said, and punched and kicked Scharmen, 58. He suffered a cracked rib and was left with bruises and bleeding on his arms and head, according to an arrest report.

A 50-year-old colleague heard the commotion and saw Gray yelling as he left Scharmen's office. She told deputies he threw a chair at her and tried to grab her leg and flip her over.

Then Gray jumped into a city-owned flatbed truck and drove west on 15th Avenue N, deputies said. But he made a U-turn and headed back. He aimed the truck at four women standing outside the front entrance of City Hall, deputies said. All four women ran into City Hall, and told deputies they believed Gray intended to run them over.

The mayor said City Hall was placed on lockdown for about 30 minutes, until they heard Gray was arrested.

Deputies found Gray driving south on Gulf Boulevard at 10th Avenue N and pulled him over using techniques known as a "felony traffic stop." That means deputies considered Gray dangerous and likely ordered him out of the truck at gunpoint.

He was uncooperative at first. Gray kept asking why he was being arrested as four deputies wrestled him to the ground, according to the arrest report. Later, the Sheriff's Office said he admitted to assaulting the two city employees and said that he intended to drive the truck into City Hall.

Scharmen was taken to the hospital for treatment and later released. He was identified by the city, but the other city employees involved asked the Sheriff's Office not to release their names. The agency withheld their names under a constitutional amendment known as Marsy's Law, which was designed to protect crime victims.

Gray was booked into the Pinellas County jail, where he was being held late Wednesday in lieu of $61,150 bail.

"I haven't slowed down all day," Mims said. "Indian Rocks Beach has never experienced anything like this before, and in my 35 years in government service I've never seen anything like this."

Contact Kavitha Surana at ksurana@tampabay.com or 727-893-8149. Follow @ksurana6.

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