A Florida police officer formerly from Long Island lost his life in the line of duty early Sunday morning when he was shot down and then run over, authorities say. The suspect was later arrested and charged with first degree murder.
Officer Charles Kondek, 45, was a 17-year veteran of the Tarpon Springs Police Department, near Tampa. A former New York City policeman for five years, Kondek, known as “Charlie K” his colleagues said, reportedly grew up in North Massapequa and graduated from Plainedge High School. He was married and the father of six.
Police arrested Marco Antonio Parilla, Jr., a 23-year-old wanted fugitive, on suspicion of first-degree murder, police said.
Sometime after 2 a.m. early Sunday morning, authorities say, Officer Kondek was called to the Glen’s Eureka apartment complex in Tarpon Springs to respond to a noise complaint. Someone had called the police about blaring music coming from a white car parked there. It turned out to be Parilla’s vehicle.
The suspect had gotten out of the car and was reportedly pounding on apartment doors looking for someone living in the complex whom he thought had “dimed him out”-–turned him in for violating his parole—-the sheriff’s office explained.
When the suspect saw Officer Kondek, he fired at him. The officer returned fire but fell to the ground. Next, authorities say, Parilla got into his car and ran over the officer before he crashed it into a utility pole, snapping it, and then hit a pickup truck.
According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Parilla’s criminal record included nearly 30 felony arrests and 15 misdemeanor arrests. In March, Parilla was released from prison.
At a press conference Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Parilla “felt like a caged rat…He should never have been on the streets to begin with.”
Officer Kondek will be sorely missed, his colleagues say. During his nearly two decades on duty, he spent many nights working on the midnight shift.
“Charlie was a great guy,” said Tarpon Springs Patrol Officer Manny Magoulis, a New Jersey native. “I can’t say enough good things about him. He was very dedicated to his job, obviously…and very much dedicated to his family.”
According to local news reports, Kondek was the fourth officer killed in the line of duty in Tarpon Springs—the previous officer’s death happened in 1969 following a car crash, and the other two deaths, both from gunfire, occurred in the 1920s.
Kondek’s death came nearly 12 hours after two NYPD officers–Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu–were murdered, execution-style, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn by 28-year old Ismaaiyl Brinsley of Georgia, say police, who then took his own life. Brinsley had shot his girlfriend in Baltimore and posted messages about his plans to kill cops on social media sites prior to the slayings, citing the deaths of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., as his justification, according to multiple reports.
Garner and Brown, both African Americans, were killed by white police officers. Grand juries’ subsequent decisions not to prosecute those officers sparked mass protests and rallies in opposition across the country.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says there was no link between Kondek’s slaying and those of Officers Ramos and Liu.