‘Everyone Knew Ricky and Randy’: Tampa Police Department Remembers Murdered Detectives 25 Years After Murderous Shooting

The suspect also shot and killed a young FHP soldier

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s been a dark day for law enforcement in Tampa Bay.

“Twenty-five years ago today, they were murdered right here where we stand,” Tampa Police Department interim chief Lee Bercaw told News Channel 8 at a meeting of past and present TPD officers.

Detectives Randy Bell and Ricky Childers have been assigned to the Tampa Police Unit investigating homicides.

“Everyone knew Ricky and Randy,” Bercaw said. “If someone was murdered, you would need these two detectives on the case.”

But on May 19, 1998, the investigators became the victims. Bercaw was in his sophomore year at TPD.

“It’s a day I will never forget,” he said. “My brother-in-law was a homicide detective at the time and had to handle a murder case involving two of his colleagues.”

News Channel 8 was there when investigators placed a convicted felon pretending to be the grieving father of a murdered four-year-old boy in the back seat of their police car.

On the way back to the police headquarters in the city center, the suspect opened his handcuffs with a hidden key. He seized Childer’s gun and fatally shot both of them.

Hank Earl Carr also shot and killed FHP freshman James Brad Crooks when the latter tried to stop him.

Carr then barricaded himself at a gas station in Hernando County. Before the SWAT team could move in, he released the employee he was holding hostage and took his own life.

“It was a tragic and traumatic day for law enforcement in general, not just for the city of Tampa,” said John Miller, vice president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association.

The police union organized a Friday afternoon gathering for TPD retirees, who served with the detectives and active duty officers, at the plaques at the Floribraska Avenue exit of I-275 southbound.


“Being out here today and caring for this site shows that we never forget those who are lost in the service,” Bercaw said.

Bell’s legacy lives on through his daughter, Ashley, who is now a Tampa police officer.

“It’s an honor for her to follow in these footsteps and it’s something that’s always on her mind,” Bercaw said. “She knows she makes her father proud.”

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