Proudly He Served
1947 - 1975
St. Augustine Beach Police Department
June 7, 1947
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End of Watch
January 12th, 1975
Violence began in the early minutes of Sunday morning with the murder of St. Augustine Beach's deputy marshal, and ended in a shoot-out at the Piccadilly Pub at 403 Anastasia Blvd.
Deputy Marshal Ronald Alfred Parker, 27, was pronounced dead at the scene after he was shot several times outside the Sheraton Inn on Highway A1A south of St. Augustine, according to St. Johns County Sheriff Dudley Garrett.
The Suspect, whom Garrett said is identified tentatively by FBI investigators, as Thomas Edward Desherlia, age 30, was reportedly hit in the right arm in a shoot-out with Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Wayne Tanner following a high-speed chase.Unofficial reports say the bullet lodged in Desherlia's ribcage and that he also sustained injuries to the back of his head.
Desherlia was released from intensive care Sunday night, hospital officials said, and his condition was listed as "stable" and "fair."Garrett said local investigators found more than $2,400 in small bills, and some ski masks, rubber gloves and more than 40 pounds of .45 caliber ammunition in Desherlia's room, and $500 on his person.
Desherlia registered at a downtown motel shortly before dark on Saturday, Garrett said.
The FBI says Desherlia, whom they list as a suspect in an Iowa bank robbery, left Missouri Jan. 5, or Jan. 6 with a large amount of cash and a .45 caliber automatic weapon, Garrett says. Some of Desherlia's identification gave that name, Garrett said, but other identification was also found on his person and in his luggage.
Witnesses say the suspect walked to the Sheraton to call for assistance after running his car into some rocks at the pier about 150 yards south of the inn, Garrett said.
Parker Arrived at the pier after witnesses reported the incident Garrett said, and drove to the Sheraton to find the driver.Witnesses give conflicting accounts of events surrounding the killing, Garrett said. Some say the suspect was in the front seat of Parker's car at the time of the shooting, and others say he was outside, according to Garrett. Garrett said the suspect probably was inside, because Parker was shot in the right side. After the shooting, the suspect fled on foot but returned, brandishing his .45 caliber handgun at persons who'd gathered after hearing the shots, witnesses said.
Wendel McGraw, 322 Ponce de Leon Blvd., said Parker's patrol car rolled into the parking lot and struck some parked cars after the shooting. Then the suspect returned on foot, he said."He was calling some name as he ran back. Then he put a pistol in my face and shouted "Y'all hit the ground,'" McGraw said.
McGraw said the pistol was so close to his face he "could see the grooves in the gun." David Pacetti of Hercules Road said he was getting into his car outside the Sheraton as Parker was shot. "He shot four or five times, then jumped out and ran."
Pacetti recalled running to call an ambulance and returning, as the suspect ran back. "The Guy Sure was excited." Pacetti said. "He shouted "I'm the guy that shot him!'"
The suspect then pulled Parker from the car, got in and backed up, dragging Parker a short distance, and raced toward St. Augustine, Garrett said. Police were alerted and blocked off the Bridge of Lions, Garrett said...
Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Wayne Tanner, who had learned of the shooting on his patrol car radio, spotted Parker's car driven by Desherlia, speeding toward St. Augustine on Anastasia Boulevard at San Tander Road, and he gave chase, Garrett said.
Tanner said the suspect, probably seeing police ahead, jumped from Parker's car In front of the Davis Shores Apartments, 400 Anastasia Blvd., and fired at Tanner's car while running across Anastasia near the corner of Matanzas, Garrett said.
Garrett said Tanner, who is right handed, fired left-handed through his open window. Then according to Tanner and
witnesses, the suspect got up and Tanner, still in his car, fired again, the sheriff recounted.
Garrett said the suspect then fell a second time. Two shots hit Tanner's car, and another shot away his radio antenna, Garrett said.
City Police arrived just after the shooting as Tanner got out of his car, and an ambulance was called to the scene,
Buddy Cooper, Sheraton Lounge manager, who had seen part of the incident at the Sheraton, said he and a friend
followed the suspect from the Sheraton and arrived at the Piccadilly just after the suspect fell in the parking lot.
Tanner had shot him and he'd dropped both guns. I kicked one away." Cooper said. Tanner refused to make any
statement for The Record and referred all questions to Garrett.
Headlines-St. Augustine Record
St. Augustine, Florida
Monday, January 13, 1975
Wounded Man Held in Beach Deputy Death
By Christine Stevens and Pete Osborne News Staff