The mayor of Port Richey faces two counts of attempted murder after firing shots at police outside his home early Thursday. Police say Dale Massad, 68, shot a handgun, injuring no one, before he was taken into custody.
A SWAT team surrounded the mayor's home at 4:40 am, said Pasco County sheriff Chris Nocco.
"The suspect is a known drug user. The suspect had multiple weapons in the house, which was prevalent in what happened. The suspect made statements he does not want to go back to jail. The suspect has a previous history of violence. That is who we were dealing with today," said Nocco.
Officers saw that Massad had a gun in his hand. They ordered him to drop his weapon. Massad fired two rounds, but didn’t hit anyone. Police did not fire back, but circled the house and ordered him to come out, Nocco said.
"We did the right thing. We did everything we could to make it a peaceful resolution. He is the one who made the decision to shoot at us. He is the one who is going to be in jail right now," Nocco said.
Officers also suspect that the mayor was under the influence of drugs when he was arrested, Nocco said. Massad is now at Pasco County Jail.
The initial reason for the arrest was to charge Massad with practicing medicine without a license, following a four-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
He had relinquished his medical license in 1992, but was still believed to be practicing medicine in his home.
“I want to commend Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco and the deputies who risked their lives apprehending this dangerous suspect," Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement.
"No one is above the law. As Attorney General, my office will work with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute any crime within our jurisdiction regardless of the target’s political position or economic status.”
It remains unclear what – if any – steps the City of Port Richey will take to fill the mayor’s post. The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.