Former Tampa Bay area middle-school principal Anthony Giancola, 45, is being held without bond after a violent rampage that left two dead and a trail of destruction in its wake, according to the Associated Press. Giancola is charged in the fatal stabbings, as well as with ramming a building with his car and assaulting a married couple with a hammer.
Giancola, who was fired from his job as principal of Van Buren Middle School in Tampa in 2007 when he bought $20 of crack cocaine from an undercover police officer, was taken into custody Friday night, bloody and incoherent. Officers believe that he was intoxicated.
“You’ll be very proud of me, I just killed 10 drug dealers,” he told his mother after his arrest.
The violent spree began Friday morning, shortly before 10:45 a.m., when Giancola barged into a home for the hearing impaired in tiny Lealman, Florida, about 20 miles west of Tampa, and began stabbing people at random. 27-year-old Justin Lee Vand died at the scene and Mary Anne Allis, 59, died from her wounds at a nearby hospital. Also injured were Danielle Whitney Gilbert, 25, and Janice Denise Rhoden, 44.
“It appears at this moment, this is all random,” Pinellas County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Cecelia Barreda told reporters. Law enforcement officials are still trying to piece together a complete time line, but it appears that Giancola left the scene of the stabbings and attacked Kanu and Indiranden Patel, both 57, at the hotel they own, the Kenvins Motel in Pinellas Park, Florida. Mr. and Mrs. Patel suffered serious injuries from what appeared to be blows from a hammer. Kanu Patel is reported to be in critical condition.
Around 11:30 a.m., Giancola reportedly pulled up in front of a house where residents where sitting on their front porch. Giancola asked where he could find women and the residents asked him to leave, which he did, only to return moments later, ramming his vehicle into the porch at a high rate of speed, injuring three women and one man.
A witness scribbled down the plate number of Giancola’s Ford sedan as it sped away.
13-year-old Kole Price, who was bicycling home from a fishing trip, reported that he was struck by Giancola’s car in Pinellas Park as it sped by. As he struggled on the ground, the car backed up and hit him again. He escaped by hiding behind a telephone pole and, according to the Associated Press, “a Buddhist shrine that had been erected on the roadside.” His injuries, thankfully, were minor.
Police say that there was no apparent motive to the crimes. Capt. Sanfield Forseth of the Pinellas Police Department refuted Giancola’s claim that the people were criminals.
“These people were not drug dealers,” he said, as far as authorities could ascertain.
Giancola appeared before a judge this morning and was charged with with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. His surviving eleven victims are being treated in area hospitals with a wide range of injuries.
Watch video of Giancola’s arraignment, embedded via the Pinellas County Department of Corrections, below:
(image of Anthony Giancola in court Saturday morning via YouTube screen capture)