Sending a signal to those who consider acts of violence
t was dusk, just two days before Christmas, when the driver and occupants of a green pickup truck threw an acid and smoke bomb at a Clearwater apartment building. No one was hurt, but the possibility of further attacks left the residents Church of Scientology staff members and neighbors, concerned. The need for law enforcement protection and action was, without question, urgent.
The authorities were alerted and Officer Margo Gustavson of the Clearwater Police Department responded effectively. Persistently tracking scant leads, she located one of the bombers. Officer Gustavson made the arrest and that suspect both confessed his own involvement and identified the other offenders.
Gustavson then promptly secured further arrests, not only ensuring the culprits were brought to justice but also restoring peace of mind to the neighborhood.
Officer Margo Gustavson reflects the dedication so common among street officers of the Clearwater PD.
We were very grateful that Officer Gustavson took charge of the investigation and speedily set about tracking down the offenders, said a resident at the Hacienda Gardens, where the bomb had been thrown.
Her willingness to persist in the investigation until the suspect was apprehended helped restore a sense of safety to the residents and neighbors, said Church executive Ben Shaw. She was swift and professional, and that made all the difference in a sensitive situation like this.
Margo Gustavson is no stranger to bravely and coolly handling sensitive situations. In an incident on Clearwater Beach in 1993, Gustavson and a fellow officer were confronted with a man screaming and wielding a screwdriver as a weapon.
The officer who accompanied Gustavson, Charles Cronin, described the man as running zig-zag in the street and said he charged the patrol car. The man later told Cronin he was out of his mind on drugs, having smoked $100 worth of crack cocaine.
Officers Gustavson and Cronin tried to bring the man under control, telling him they were there only to help him, but he resisted violently.
The struggle was witnessed by former Clearwater Chamber of Commerce Chairman Ken Hamilton, who reported, I sat there and watched in amazement. It would not have been uncalled for if the officers had thrown him to the ground thats probably what I would have done but they maintained their cool.
It later turned out that the man had a record for committing battery on a law enforcement officer.
The restraint and cool shown by Officers Gustavson and Cronin took on even greater significance given the then-ongoing controversy over police treatment of Rodney King in Los Angeles and Jerome Bunch in Crystal River. In both cases, use of excessive force by police was at issue.
Hamilton was so impressed he called the Clearwater Police Chief to commend the officers.
Officer Margo Gustavsons swift action reflects the dedication so common among the street officers of the Clearwater PD. She held to her training and her sworn duty to protect all citizens. By acting with speed, she undoubtedly also sent an important signal to others who considered similar acts of violence.
In praising Officer Gustavson for her efforts, Church spokesman Brian Anderson also recognized other officers. Officer Gustavson is one of many Clearwater Police Department officers who do their duties by the book, said Anderson. In this case, it was she who persevered and tracked down criminals before they or others could do further harm. With officers like her, Clearwater citizens have cause for pride, and can rest that much easier.