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Release Number: 09-256

For Immediate Release

Public Information Office

September 18, 2009


(813) 247-8060




The Public Deserves The Facts Regarding Incident Involving Pistol In Briefcase At Courthouse



Various media outlets have reported on an incident involving a citizen whose handgun was discovered inside his briefcase as he reported for jury duty at the Hillsborough County Courthouse.  On Thursday, one media outlet in particular, WTSP-10 Connects, chose to broadcast an inaccurate portrayal of the incident.


The accurate facts are as follows:  The incident began around 8 a.m. when Chadwick W. Harrod arrived at the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse in downtown Tampa on Monday, September 14, 2009 around 8 a.m. The citizen placed his soft-sided briefcase on the belt for it to be scanned and X-rayed in the magnetometer. A Court Security Services employee spotted a pistol in the briefcase. The citizen was detained, and Court Security Services contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).  HCSO Detective Ronnie Cooper, who was already present at the courthouse on another matter, was notified of the incident at 8:20 a.m. and responded to the Courthouse security station to begin a criminal investigation.  Detective Cooper met with and interviewed the citizen, who was cooperative and apologized for forgetting about the pistol in his briefcase. The citizen also provided proof of a valid Florida concealed weapons permit. Detective Cooper seized the firearm, the ammunition clip and a holster and impounded the items at the HCSO Property Room. Detective Cooper then conferred with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office regarding the incident. Detective Cooper was advised to proceed with the investigation and to complete a direct file of a criminal charge. Detective Cooper, in his report, noted that the citizen was not arrested and taken to jail because prosecutors would be ultimately responsible for filing a criminal information or not against the citizen. On Thursday, September 17, 2009, following completion of the appropriate reports, Detective Cooper hand-delivered a direct file charge to the State Attorney’s Office around 3 p.m. The charge against Mr. Harrod was “Entering Into A Sterile Area With A Firearm,’’ a misdemeanor.


Any questions regarding what action prosecutors will take against the citizen should be directed to the State Attorney’s Office.


The Sheriff’s Office would like the public to have the opportunity to know the truth about this event and to be assured that prompt attention was given to the incident, despite Channel 10’s version.  In that story, WTSP reporter Mike Deeson tried to compare an August 6, 2009 incident in which a woman entered the courthouse with what turned out to be a cigarette lighter shaped like a pistol with Monday’s incident. Deeson described it as this:


“And while the lighter incident caused a major uproar having everyone including the Sheriff’s Office spring into action almost immediately, in the incident with the real gun several days have passed and still nothing has been done. No announcement, no charges have been filed…Some of the courthouse security force wonder what’s the hang up.’’


The Sheriff’s Office takes its mission to serve and protect the citizens of this county very seriously, including responding to incidents at the courthouse.  While citizens have every right to expect such services from the HCSO, they also have the right to expect accuracy in the media reports regarding those services.