My old college roommate sent me this link. We can’t believe it’s been ten years since it happened.
If you’ve lived in Tampa for more than ten years, even if you are self-involved and under the age of twenty, you’ve probably heard the name Hank Earl Carr. He killed some people, including a four year old boy and three cops. He affected my life a little, too.
Please keep in mind that this is not really my story to tell. It’s really more my friend Tim’s story more than anyone else I know but well, he doesn’t tell stories. So here goes (with assists from the Tampa Tribune in italics).
9:50 a.m., Tuesday. Joey Bennett, 4, is brought to a Tampa fire station by Hank Earl Carr and the boy's mother, Bernice Bowen. The boy had a bullet in his head. Bowen pleads with firefighters to save her son. They try, but Joey dies.
Next several minutes. Carr speeds away from the station, returning to the apartment where Joey was shot. When police catch up to him, Carr tells them the shooting was an accident. Police treat it that way.
9:53 a.m. I’m dead asleep. I got no clue anything is happening because I’m dead asleep. I also live about eight miles from where all this is going on.
10:30 a.m. Carr bolts from the police, raising suspicions. He is quickly caught and taken to the Tampa Police Department, where he is questioned. Police detectives Rick Childers and Randy Bell return to the apartment with Carr. They walk through the scene.
12:15 p.m. I wake up and pop the last beer in the fridge. My roommates, Doug and Larry are at work. We’re in that cool chunk of time between spring and summer classes. Nothing to do but get drunk all day and lay in the sun.
1:42 p.m. I take another nap.
2 p.m. While returning to the police station, Carr gets out of his handcuffs and grabs Childers' gun. He shoots Childers, who is driving. He turns the gun on Bell and shoots him as the officer tries to dive into the back seat. Carr gets out of the car and carjacks a white Ford Ranger. He heads north on Interstate 275 into Pasco County.
(Nate’s note: It’s interesting that this article leaves out the fact that Carr got out of the handcuffs because he had a pair of handcuff keys on him. Not to give anyone ideas or anything but well, you know…)
2:30 p.m. Just south of State Road 54 Florida Highway Patrol trooper James B. Crooks stops with the Ford Ranger. Carr gets out of the truck with a rifle. He shoots Crooks while the rookie officer is talking to his lieutenant on the police radio. As Carr moves back to the stolen truck, a witness sees another truck try to run him down, but Carr speeds off.
2:42 p.m. As I am watching television, I see friend and former roommate Tim covered in blood and telling his tale of trying to rescue trooper Crooks. I immediately call my roommate Doug and tell him that bringing a ton of beer home from work is a necessity. Tim is now a mini-celebrity. And a blood stained one at that.
3 p.m. Carr crosses the Hernando County line where officers are waiting. He runs over a device that punctures his tires. He fires his rifle wildly, hitting a sheriff's helicopter. He pulls off the interstate at State Road 50 and drives to a Shell gasoline station. He shoots at police as he runs into the building where he takes a hostage, Stephanie Diane Kramer.
Next four hours. Carr stays in the gas station. No shots are fired, but he has plenty to say. Radio reporters talk to him, and the conversation is broadcast on television. He tells his story. He talks to Bowen.
4:15 p.m. I talk to Tim. I tell him he is insane for going to work after almost getting killed by an insane gunman. He asks if we have any beer. I tell him that we do. He says he’ll come by when he gets off work.
5:22 p.m. I am stinking drunk because I played a drinking game whereby I did a shot of rum every time I saw Tim’s face on television.
7:30 p.m. Carr lets Kramer go. She runs from the building to the safety of the police. Hernando sheriff's officers fire five canisters of tear gas into the building. The Tampa bomb squad sets off charges designed to blow holes in the walls. When the gas clears, Carr is dead. He has shot himself in the head.
7:32 p.m. “No way he shot himself in the head,” I say to the three people in my living room: Doug, Larry and Sean.
“He killed three cops in one day—dude was marked—“
“Hey, I heard Good Morning America is gonna interview Tim,” Doug says.
8:02 p.m. Tim arrives.
“How you doing?” asks Doug, careful to make sure his friend has digested the day he’s had.
“This is by far and away the single fucking weirdest day of my life,” says Tim. Who then adds, “Can I have a beer?”
I bring Tim a beer.