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Elementary school students will soon have a chance to name the city’s new police dog.
The police department’s special operations unit wants to hold a contest to name the newest member of the K-9 team.
Sgt. Tracey Schofield, supervisor, said he will be meeting with the principles and teachers of Skyview, Rawlings, Pinellas Park, Pinellas Central, Cross Bayou, Sacred Heart and Richard Sanders elementary schools in an effort to gauge their willingness to participate in this contest.
“Our goal is to have 5th grade students from each school participate in this event,” Schofield said. “We feel this is the best group to help us, but we’ll open it to other grades if the response is low.”
The four men entered the room at Orient Road Jail to news cameras rolling and reporters firing questions.
Terrell Carswell, Jerry Dieguez Jr., David Schofield and Hoang Vu have received a flurry of attention since Wednesday, when word got out that the four inmates jumped to the rescue of Deputy Kenneth Moon, who was being strangled by another inmate.
The event was recorded and the dramatic video has made the men into worldwide celebrities. The sheriff’s office already has fielded calls from The Oprah Winfrey Show, Inside Edition and TV stations from as far away as Norway. All wanted interviews with the men.
In addition to the media, the sheriff’s office has received about a dozen calls nationally from people wanting to donate money into the men’s jail accounts. A caller from New Jersey wanted to donate a flat screen television for the men’s cell unit.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, they said the incident gave them a chance to show their true natures.
“It means a lot to me,” said Schofield, 34. “That shows you how much respect and what kind of heart I got.”
“At least I did something right,” said Carswell, 38. “We do have a heart.”
The group also shed some more light on what happened Monday. At about 12:45 p.m. that day, the 62 men in the cell unit were picking up their lunch of sandwiches and cookies. When inmate Douglas Burden didn’t want to eat, Moon told him to go back to bed.
Seconds later, Burden, who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and 160 pounds, sneaked around the control unit and put Moon, 64, in a chokehold.
Almost immediately, Dieguez rounded the desk and, on the run, punched Burden in the face.
“Out of instinct I attacked him and hit him as hard as I could,” Dieguez said.
Burden fell to the ground and Dieguez, Carswell and Vu charged him and held him down. Schofield took the deputy’s radio and called for help at the control center.
The four inmates know Moon well. All said they have respect for him and how he treats them. He has strict rules but he is fair, the inmates said.
“Moon, he goes out of his way,” Carswell said. “Even though he’s an officer, he acts like a father figure and like a doctor.”
The sheriff’s office has written a letter of commendation for the inmates.
Attorneys for the men hope their actions are looked upon favorably in the judicial process and might lead to early release.
By Jose PATINO GIRONA