HOMELESS MAN SLAIN AT BUS STOP
By Mike Brassfield
ST. PETERSBURG -- For Don Regnier, home was a bus stop bench or a patch of strip mall sidewalk or a dry place under a parked semitrailer. "He never bothered anybody," was a common refrain of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods Wednesday.
Early Wednesday, though, police say two young men punched
and kicked the 51-year-old homeless man to death when he or someone with
him complained about their loud car stereo as they cruised by.
"The two young guys bailed out of the car, walked over and began to beat the victim," said Pinellas sheriff's Sgt. Greg Tita.
Regnier was killed at a bus stop in the 4700 block of 28th Street N. Officers and neighbors described the site as a gathering place where men hang around and drink beer.
Two St. Petersburg men are charged with first-degree murder: William E. Marr Jr., 19, of 4616 Gray St., and Tony Rosa, 18, of 6949 21st St. N. Both were in the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday night.
For years, Regnier had been a fixture around the 28th Street
Drive-in and an adjacent strip mall.
"Everybody knows him. Everybody loved him," said Nancy Ostromecki, an office manager who lives nearby. She's a regular customer at the B&N Food Mart, where Regnier opened the door for people and swept the parking lot at night. Recently, he retrieved Ostromecki's frightened cat from under a car.
"He was never belligerent, never nasty," she
said. "Always respectful. He was a sweet guy."
Investigators say Marr and Rosa killed Regnier with their fists and feet. A young couple driving by saw the beating and called 911 on a cellular phone.
Deputies say the attackers left the bus stop and drove to a nearby friend's house, where they told two women they had been in a fight.
Marr and the women went back to the bus stop, where witnesses pointed out Marr to deputies, Tita said. Rosa was arrested at home later. Wednesday night, Regnier's friends at the bus stop put up a makeshift cross for him. They toasted his memory. They had all known him a long time.
Regnier had told them he was a Vietnam veteran. He told a lot of stories, although the details changed from night to night.
"He was a good man. He wasn't a panhandler, he would
never ask for anything. He was just going about his business," said
Joseph Kimball of Pinellas Park.
People in cars kept stopping, asking if there would be some kind of memorial service.
"It's a shame," Kimball said. "This is a hate crime."
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.