Former middle school principal Anthony Joseph Giancola sentenced to life in prison

LEALMAN - The former principal of a Tampa middle school pleaded guilty Monday after a 2012 crime spree in Lealman left two dead and nine others injured.  Anthony Joseph Giancola was then sentenced to six consecutive life terms plus 30 years.

By entering the plea, Anthony Joseph Giancola avoided the death penalty.

Officials say Giancola, 45, was involved in a fatal stabbing, an assault at a hotel, and hit five others with his car.

The spree is thought to have begun at a group home for the hearing impaired in St. Petersburg, where a man and woman were stabbed to death and two others were hospitalized with knife wounds.

Justin Lee Vandenburgh, 32, was pronounced deceased on scene.  59-year-old Mary Anne Allis was taken to Northside Hospital, and was later pronounced deceased at the hospital. 

Danielle Gilbert, 25, and 43-year old Denise Rhoden were transported to Bayfront Medical Center by ambulance for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Detectives with Pinellas County say witnesses to the stabbing incident provided a description, later identified as Giancola.

The suspect is believed to have left the scene of the stabbing and made his way to Kenvin's Motel, 6801 Haines Road in Pinellas Park.  According to Pinellas Park Police, the hotel owners, a married couple, were assaulted there.

Kanu A Patel, 57, and his wife, Indiranden Patel, 57, were taken to Bayfront Medical, and injuries to the male appear to be life-threatening.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Giancola was seen in a 2005 Ford Five Hundred Limited in the parking lot of HCF Foods Discount Store at 5705-B 58th Avenue North around 11:40 a.m.  He abruptly reversed the vehicle, and crashed into a short wooden pole.

Troopers say he drove across the street and spoke with several witnesses standing near a porch outside a duplex and then abruptly left.  He circled the block, and crashed into three women and a man, injuring them, and breaking parts of the porch.

"He took out three of my people," later screamed a man at the duplex who declined to give his name.

Tammy Dollar, 45, of St. Petersburg, and Sherri Ray, 45, of St. Petersburg received serious injuries, and were taken to Bayfront Medical Center, along with Tammy McMillin, 46, of St. Petersburg.  Darrell Edgar, 45, of St. Petersburg, was treated and released at the scene.

Following the crash, the man drove west on 58th Avenue North and struck Kole Price, 13, just east of US Highway 19 while he rode his bike on the sidewalk.

Price was treated for minor injuries at the scene, and was shaken up.  "I was scared," said Price.  "I thought he was trying to kill me."

After hitting the child, authorities say, the suspect fled and drove to the Egg Platter Restaurant at 6767 US Hwy 19 and just left the car there in the parking lot.  

Rodgito Keller, a cook at the restaurant, told Pinellas Park Police he was outside when the driver abandoned the car and saw two women pull up in a truck.  Keller said the hit-and-run driver got into the Ford Ranger pickup and fled on US Highway 19.

A Pinellas Park undercover officer spotted a pickup matching the description near the area of 62nd Avenue and 66th Street North, and learned that the suspect was hiding nearby.  Pinellas County deputies responded with a K9, who helped find Giancola.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Giancola called his mother to tell her she would be proud because he "used a big knife" and "killed ten drug dealers."

In 2007, after an arrest for buying crack cocaine, Giancola was fired as principal of Van Buren Middle School.

Reports from the Florida Highway Patrol, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the Pinellas Park Police Department were used in this story.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments