Police arrested a 16-year-old in the slaying of security officer Michael Valentin, a 38-year-old husband and father of two young children who was killed last week while on duty at the Grande Oak Apartments on East Hanna Avenue.
Larry Donell Brown, 4803 Arapahoe Court, is charged with first-degree murder. Police said the teenager has a rap sheet that includes a dozen felonies, most for violent crimes.
Brown is initially being charged as a juvenile, but police are going to ask the State Attorney’s Office to charge him as an adult.
The teenager shot the security officer while trying to rob him, police said. Brown was arrested Tuesday on a charge of stealing a handgun police said was probably the one used to shoot Valentin. The murder charge was added late Wednesday.
"It was extraordinary police work,’’ said Tampa police Sgt. Bill Todd. "The detectives from the homicide squad and from District 2, the FBI, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, worked hand in hand, working to overcome any obstacles.’’
Valentin was armed when he was shot but his gun was still in the holster when his body was found. The security officer was shot in the "upper body,’’ police said.
Brown was also charged with attempted armed robbery in connection with the murder, two counts of armed robbery in connection with the ATM cases, and grand theft of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm as a result of investigators saying he stole a Taurus 9 mm firearm from someone in Hillsborough County. Todd would not identify the owner.
Police believe the stolen gun was used in the ATM robberies, Todd said.
Todd said Brown was identified by multiple witnesses in both the murder and the ATM robberies. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement made a positive DNA analysis of a bicycle Brown left behind at the crime scene, he added.
Brown admitted the bicycle was his, but has not acknowledged killing Valentin, Todd said.
Valentin helped protect homeless men and women as a peace officer in New York City for nine years. When he and his family moved to Tampa more than a year ago, it was Valentin's work experience and friendliness that most impressed his new bosses.
Largo-based security company Critical Intervention Services hired Valentin in October and assigned him to night detail at the Grande Oak Apartments on East Hanna Avenue.
Brown’s arrest was announced late Wednesday, a few hours after residents of Grande Oak Apartments and CIS officers held an informal memorial celebration of Valentin’s life. The event took place at the apartment complex.
When Valentin was shot, police said residents didn’t need to worry, that they would catch the murderer.
"Now we don’t have to worry, he’s in custody,’’ Todd said.