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Drug dealers attack man, no one helps


I give up. This board is too hard to understand.
The guy is only trying to do what's right... look what he gets.


After several see attack, silence
By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
Published June 30, 2004

TAMPA - Nearly 20 guys were hanging around the city basketball court, shooting hoops, when thugs moved in on Billy Gardner.

Everyone heard the first blow to the head of Gardner, a city employee who oversaw the park and its programs.

Everyone saw it when the man kids call "coach" fell to the ground.

No one could have missed it when Gardner was punched each time he tried to get up.

"That's enough," someone finally said.

The days since that moment on May 5, when someone spoke up to stop the beating, have been followed by silence. No one from this east Tampa neighborhood, a working-class area best known for its budget motels, will say who did it.

The attackers wanted to punish and intimidate Gardner, who had been standing up against drug dealing in the park. That day, he found out he was standing alone.

"Dag gone it, someone knows something," Tampa police Major George McNamara said Tuesday. "There is a number of people who saw what was going on. I just need one set of eyeballs who is willing to do the right thing."

The silence speaks to who really runs the city park on E 21st Avenue, residents said. It's the drug dealers who call the shots, they say.

Several people in the neighborhood seem to know who attacked Gardner. They point down the street to a house, where they suggest the perpetrators may live. But they won't mention names.

"They are afraid," said Owedia Walker, president of the Highland Pines neighborhood task force, who understands the fear. After she sponsored a crime march against drug dealers, someone threw white paint on her new Buick, which was gray.

"I used to take my grandson out there," said William Copper, 69, who lives across the street from the park. "I don't take him out there any more."

Gardner, 54, wasn't the type to look the other way. When he saw kids drinking beer behind a tree, he chased them off. When he caught people smoking dope, he made them leave.

In April, he called police another time when he caught teenagers using drugs in the park.

"No one went to jail," he said.

Officers didn't arrive until the teenagers had left, Gardner said.

A few weeks passed, and Gardner was watching a Wednesday night game on the basketball court about 7:30 p.m. Most guys on the court knew him.

As he was sitting on the sidelines, he noticed two men walk toward him. Gardner felt uneasy.

As the men walked closer, one nodded at him, as if to say hello, Gardner said. Then, they walked behind him. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the first punch.

"What's going on?" he said, after he fell to the ground.

No one rushed to help, he said. He struggled to stand up, but another punch knocked him down.

No one shouted for them to stop, he said. Gardner curled in a ball in the middle of the court. Then, the men started kicking him.

Finally, someone said, "That's enough."

The men walked off, but not before they made it clear why they had come.

"You will know the next time you call police on someone smoking reefer," one of the men told Gardner.

Gardner said he understands why no one intervened. The men who attacked him were tough. But, as he explains how no one helped, his voice dips, disappointed.

"I am really ashamed that this happened to him," said Walker.

Gardner did extra to help the younger kids in the park, she and two other residents said. He organized a sports award banquet during Black History Month. He worked Saturdays without pay to help with a football league. He spent his own money to buy things for the kids.

Some community leaders question why police have not made an arrest.

"Nothing has really been done about it," said Betty Bell, head of the Highland Pines neighborhood watch. "We are all saying the same thing: Why not?"

Gardner identified the men who attacked him, but police say they need other witnesses. Police can't rely on his identification alone, because Gardner was so badly beaten he became disoriented, McNamara said.

A detective has canvassed the neighborhood, looking for the nearly 20 people who watched the attack, he said.

"No one will come and look at a photo pack and say, "This is the guy who did it,"' McNamara said.

For his safety, Gardner has been transferred to another facility. One Tuesday, he returned to the park for the first time since the attack. Kids waved to him and called him "coach" as a news photographer took his picture. One little girl asked:

"Why don't you come to the park, Coach Billy?"

"I am taking a little break," he said. "I'll be back."

- Anyone with information about this crime should contact Tampa police Detective James O'Nolan at (813) 276-3704.
That neigborhood deserves to go to shit. Notice that the residents are wanting to know why the police haven't made an arrest when they themselves won't speak up. Typical welfare mentality, they want someone else to fix their problem.
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I agree... I don't feel sorry for the neiborhood... if they will not help turn the guys over, but bitch about the "trouble".... what a waste...

Billy needs to go help a neiborhood that wants his help!!
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"Nothing has really been done about it," said Betty Bell, head of the Highland Pines neighborhood watch. "We are all saying the same thing: Why not?"
because you fuck heads wont speak up. i was going to give them the benefit of the doubt about not speaking up untill i saw that they blame the police. i hate fuck heads.
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This one kinda hits home for me...

My office is less than a mile away from that park - I hadn't heard about this story until just now. I guess this sort of thing happens in every big city (the neighborhood reminds me somewhat of the Ohio Ave./Champion Ave. area of the near East Side in Columbus), but this neighborhood is definitely not for the faint of heart.

edit: went to Rand McNally.com to find the actual distance away...
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