Dunedin man arrested after shooting hole in water tower next to golf course

Million-gallon tank holds city reclaimed water

DUNEDIN - Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.  A one million gallon City of Dunedin water tower on Curlew Rd. has been spewing reclaimed water since it was pierced with a bullet from a high-powered rifle early Tuesday morning.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, 49-year old Mark Fitzgerald of Dunedin fired the shot that caused the water to start draining out of the tank.

City of Dunedin engineer Tom Burke has experienced a lot of challenges in his career; but he's never been faced with this problem.

"This ranks right up there among the more stupid things I've seen.  There's no good reason, no good excuse," said Burke.

The Sheriff's office responded to the Dunedin Country Club golf course, which is next to the tower, around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning after several callers reported hearing shots in the area.

Fitzgerald was spotted leaving the course and was arrested after deputies found the rifle and another handgun.  Investigators say Fitzgerald told them he was looking for his lost dog and had the weapons with him in case he encountered coyotes.

Joe Harris has known Fitzgerald for 12 years; they live in the same neighborhood.

"This isn't like the person I know.  The person I know is a hard working good person.  Like, he's not, he doesn't discharge weapons at water towers," said Harris.

Deputies say Fitzgerald was impaired when he was arrested on felony criminal mischief charges.  Golfers on the course today were perplexed by the bizarre turn of events.

"It's hard to believe.  I can't imagine somebody coming out here in the middle of the night with a rifle and shooting a hole in our water tower;  it's crazy," said Ray Mendel of Dunedin.

"I think it's an indication of people being nuttier than ever, but it's also a little scary when you're standing underneath it now," golfer Ken Desroches.

The 150' feet tall tower, built in 1965, will be completely drained before repair workers can climb up into the tank to assess the damage. Early estimates put the cost between $150,000 and $200,000.

Reclaimed water service to residents will not be disrupted.

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