Twenty years after one of the most tragic days in the city’s history, the Tampa Police Department held a memorial held to honor three law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
On May 19, 1998, Detectives Randy Bell and Ricky Childers were investigating the shooting death of a 4-year-old boy.
Police say the father of the boy, Hank Earl Carr, gave a fake name and a shaky story.
According to the TPD, the officers took Carr back to the scene of the crime to retrace his steps, then they handcuffed him and put him in a patrol car. They didn’t know Carr was a convicted felon.
While in the back seat on the way to headquarters, officers say Carr used a handcuff key hanging around his neck to undo his cuffs. He wrestled Detective Childers’ gun away from him and used it to shoot and kill both officers.
Carr would lead police on a chase that saw him kill state trooper James Crooks before finally taking his own life inside a gas station on SR-50 in Hernando County.
One of the officers in attendance at Saturday’s memorial was especially touched by what happened that day.
“Unfortunately I was 14 when he passed away so I didn’t really get to know him,” said Det. Ashley Bell, daughter of Randy Bell and a detective in Lee County. “I started in law enforcement for my dad. I got into it, I think, more to make him proud. Now I really enjoy it now as well.”
Dozens of other officers and loved ones attended the ceremony outside TPD headquarters in downtown Tampa, accompanied by a bagpiper and trumpeter.
Detective Childers’ son said he remembers that fateful day like it was yesterday.
“My dad was a serious person,” said Glen Harris. “But he had a funny side. He loved being a cop. If he could’ve done it 24/7, without any sleep, that’s what he would have done.”