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Hillsborough deputy demoted for leaving gun in theater

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Published:   |   Updated: August 16, 2013 at 11:54 PM

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County sheriff’s detective who left a loaded gun in a movie theater bathroom has been demoted to the rank of patrol deputy.

Luke Hussey, a 13-year-veteran of the department, also will be suspended for 10 days without pay, a “significant financial hit,” sheriff’s spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

“He recognizes his error,” McKinnon said. “He has been cooperative and he’s accepted responsibility for what happened. He’s extremely remorseful and he’s thankful that his error didn’t cause anyone to get hurt.”

Hussey, 38, was off-duty and celebrating Father’s Day on June 16 at the Centro Ybor 20 Plaza movie theater to see the latest Superman movie, “Man of Steel.”

Hussey accidentally left the Glock 26 .9 mm handgun, his personal firearm, on top the toilet paper dispenser in a stall while on a bathroom break.

The sheriff’s office said Hussey realized what he had done about 90 minutes into the movie. He ran to the restroom and, when he couldn’t find his gun, talked to the theater manager, who said Tampa police had taken possession of the weapon.

The gun was found by 9-year-old Zane Noland when he went to use the restroom. Zane’s father, Wesley Noland, went with him and was surprised when his son called out, “Dad, there’s a gun!”

Noland, who was in the Marines six years, is a gun collector and holds a concealed weapons permit, took the ammunition magazine out, then called 911.

“My immediate concern was the children, making the gun safe and calling 911 so they could handle the situation,” Noland, 48, of Tampa said on the day the weapon was found.

Noland said he was proud of his son and how he handled the situation. Over the years, he’s taught him about gun safety, he said.

“I told my son we did our Superman deed for the day,’’ Noland said. “We kept people from getting hurt.”

Muvico theater officials sent Zane a Superman backpack to thank him for his help.

Hussey retrieved his handgun from police impound later that day.

Hussey’s file contains just one other disciplinary action. In 2012, he failed to respond to a subpoena and received a reprimand. Other notations in the file tout his as a team player and an asset to the sheriff’s office. During his annual evaluation in June, just before the incident, his supervisors rated him as a strong employee.

rreyes@tampatrib.com

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