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Suspect in Murder of Tarpon Springs Officer 'Felt Like a Caged Rat'

UPDATE 12/22, noon with details on Parilla's first court appearance & info on fund for Off. Kondek's family:

A first appearance for suspect Marco Parilla will be held Monday at 1:30 p.m. at the County Justice Center at 14250 49th St. N.

The following statement came from the City of Tarpon Springs:

With grieving hearts the Tarpon Springs Police Department is saddened to announce the loss of Officer Charles Kondek. Officer Kondek served with the city of Tarpon Springs as a sworn police officer for over 17 years many of which were on the midnight shift. Originally from New York he previously served for five years as a NYPD officer before moving to Florida. Officer Kondek who was 45 was killed in the line of duty on December 21, 2014. Officer Kondek leaves behind a wife and six children.

It also saddens me to have to inform you that we have received reports of fraudulent attempts to collect monies for Charlie’s family. If you receive any such solicitation please be advised that other than listed below it is probably a fraud attempt. As of this time the only legitimate organization that is collecting for Charlie’s family is listed below. Thank you for all the support that you give our Police Department.

Suncoast Law-Enforcement Charities (SCLEC)

Suncoast PBA

14141 46 Street N., Suite 1205

Clearwater, FL 33762

Make checks payable to Suncoast Law-Enforcement Charities (SCLEC)

please include Officer Charles Kondek in the memo area of the check.

Checks may also be dropped off at a Wells Fargo bank.

UPDATE 12/21, 7:30 p.m. with details from press conference:

"We lost one of our finest today."

With those words, Tarpon Springs Police Chief Robert Kochen began a press conference Sunday evening announcing the details of the shooting death of Officer Charles Kondek.

Kondek was allegedly shot and killed early Sunday morning by Marco Antonio Parilla, Jr., 23, a felon with multiple convictions who was wanted for violating his probation at the time of the killing.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Kondek was responding to a noise complaint at the Glen Eureka Apartments shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday when he was shot.

Gualtieri said Parilla, who had over 30 felony arrests and 10 convictions, was banging on doors at the apartment complex just after 2 a.m., reportedly looking for a resident who had earlier called the police on him.

While Parilla was doing that, a woman who had come to the complex with him was sitting outside in a Hyundai. A resident asked her to turn down the radio, and when she refused, that person called police.

By the time Parilla returned to his vehicle, Kondek had arrived on the scene and was standing behind Parilla's vehicle. Parilla fired seven shots from a .40 caliber handgun, hitting Kondek once, just above the top of his bulletproof vest.

Parilla then forced the woman from the Hyundai and fled the scene, backing over Kondek, who had collapsed after being shot. Another complex resident, who feared Parilla was looking for him, came out of his apartment at that time and fired five shots at Parilla's vehicle, blowing out one window. 

A short pursuit by other officers ensued, which ended when Parilla crashed into a light pole about a mile away from the shooting, near the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. He was caught a short time later after a short foot chase.

Sheriff's officials said Parilla admitted shooting Kondek during later interviews, and as he was being led into Pinellas County Jail, Parilla said that killing Kondek “was not my intention.”

At the news conference, Gualtieri said that Parilla said he "felt like a caged rat" when he first saw Kondek at the apartment complex, adding "now he can feel like a caged rat in prison."

Gualtieri also said the worst part of his day was telling Kondek's 15-year-old daughter, the youngest of his six children (including one from a previous marriage), that "daddy's not coming home."

UPDATE 12/21, 4:30 p.m. with details on shooting, including location; suspect's record; press conference:

According to law enforcement officials, Tarpon Springs Police officer Charles Kondek was allegedly shot by Marco Antonio Parilla, Jr., shortly after 2 a.m. at the Glen Eureka apartments at 199 Grand Blvd., near Spring Bayou, where Tarpon Springs holds its Epiphany celebration.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Parilla had previously lived in the apartment complex.

One of his neighbors in the building is Rachel Delk. She said Parilla was banging on neighbors' doors early Sunday, trying to find the person who called the police on him a week or two ago. He apparently had a warrant out for his arrest, according to Delk. Then the officer showed up. Within a minute, she heard 10 to 12 shots. When she looked outside, paramedics were working on the officer. "It was very scary ... it's just kind of surreal," Delk said. "You always see that kind of stuff on TV, not in front of your face."

Parilla was arrested after fleeing the scene. He crashed his car about a mile away into a power pole in the area of the Sponge Docks and was chased down by officers a short distance from where he wrecked.

The Times also reports Parilla has an extensive criminal record.

Parilla, who used to live in Tampa and Gibsonton, got out of state prison last March after serving a three-year sentence for a slew of charges including selling cocaine and marijuana, trafficking in stolen property, and leaving the scene of a crash involving an injury, according to Florida corrections records. He was arrested in Hillsborough County five times from 2009 to 2011.

A press conference from Tarpon Springs Police and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is now scheduled for 5 p.m.  

UPDATE 12/21, 3:o0 p.m. with info/picture of suspect & statement from Gov. Scott:
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has identified the suspect in the fatal shooting of Tarpon Springs police officer Charles Kondek as Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., who has been charged with one count of first degree murder.

Parilla, 23, who is described by law enforcement officials as a transient, is in custody at the Pinellas County Jail.

Credit Florida Department of Corrections
Florida Department of Corrections
23-year-old Marco Antonio Parilla Jr. has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Tarpon Springs police officer Charles Kondek.

Governor Rick Scott announced plans to attend Kondek's funeral. He also released a statement this afternoon:

“We are saddened by the death of Officer Charles Kondek who was killed in the line of duty early this morning.  Ann and I pray that God provides comfort to his loved ones and all those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy. “Last month, Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Smith was also killed in the line of duty. Each loss of a law enforcement officer is heartbreaking and losing two heroes in less than a month is a cry for peace and a signal to all Floridians to pray for our men and women in uniform who protect our communities each day. “As we celebrate the holidays, I hope and pray that Floridians can come together and foster a peace that will prevent future tragedies in our state. Our law enforcement bravely and selflessly risk their lives to protect us and as Governor I am always thinking about how we can thank and strengthen the men and women who wear the uniform and serve our families.  Ann and I join all Floridians in honoring our fallen heroes and we will continue to pray that God watch over all of our law enforcement officers and their families.”

UPDATE 12/21, 1:30 p.m. with more information on officer killed:
The Tarpon Springs Police Department has identified the officer killed this morning as Charles "Charlie K" Kondek, 45. Kondek, a former New York City policeman, was the father of five. He had been with the Tarpon Springs Police for more than 17 years.

The name was released on the Department's Facebook page around 11:15 Sunday morning.


Credit Tarpon Springs Police Dept.
Tarpon Springs Police Dept.
On their Facebook page, the Tarpon Springs Police Dept. identified the officer killed Sunday morning as 18-year veteran Charles Kondek.


Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said there's no indication currently that the shooting is related to the shooting deaths of a pair of New York City police officers yesterday.

Kondek worked for the NYPD for five years, and his father is a retired NYPD officer. Deputies said Kondek's wife works for the Pasco County Clerk of Courts. Their youngest child is 15.

Pinellas County Sheriff's officials also said there's a second scene near the initial site of the shooting, which took place near the Villa Plumrosa condominiums at 100 Grand Blvd. in Tarpon Springs.

The suspect, who is in custody, fled the scene of the shooting before crashing his vehicle into a pole and then a vehicle at Athens and Cross Street.

Officials from the Tarpon Springs Police Department and Pinellas County Sheriff Office are expected to address the media sometime this afternoon.

ORIGINAL POST 12/21, 9 a.m.:
A suspect is in custody in the shooting death of a Tarpon Springs Police officer early this morning.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office reports the shooting happened around 3 a.m. on Grand Avenue, a few blocks from the Tarpon Springs Sponge Decks, and near Spring Bayou, where the Epiphany celebration is held.

The only other information released so far is that both the officer and the suspect are male.

According to the city's website, four officers have previously been killed in the line of duty. Officer Lanny Rhea Langford died in an automobile accident November 18, 1969. Patrolman Everett E. Blewfield was the last Tarpon Springs officer to be killed by gunfire on August 16, 1926.

The shooting came hours after two New York City police officers were ambushed and killed in their patrol car.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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