Shooter in Clearwater Stand Your Ground case arrested, charged

protesters
Protesters gather after Markeis McGlockton's killing. ABC News Tampa screenshot

The white man who killed a black man in a controversial Clearwater shooting that’s drawn national attention to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been charged with manslaughter and was arrested today, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office reports.

Michael Dreyka is being booked into the Pinellas County Jail and bond has been set at $100,000, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

“Consistent with the decision making process established under Florida law in this case, the State Attorney conducted his review and decided to charge Drejka with manslaughter. An arrest warrant was issued this morning and PCSO detectives arrested Drejka,” the Pinellas Sheriff’s Department said in a statement issued Monday morning.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had come under fire for his decision not to arrest or charge Drejka in the case. The sheriff said that his hands were tied because of how the Stand Your Ground law is currently applied. He turned the case over to Pinellas State Attorney Bernie McCabe, and McCabe filed the manslaughter charge.

“I support the State Attorney’s decision and will have no further comment as the case continues to work its way through the criminal justice system.” Sheriff Gualtieri said in Monday’s statement.

Civil rights leaders have been holding protests and calling for a special session of the state Legislature to revisit the law, which was backed by the National Rifle Association. The GOP-dominated Legislature voted not to hold the special session.

On July 19, 47-year-old Drejka, who is white, started an argument and then shot and killed 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton, who is black. Drejka initiated the dispute over a handicapped parking space outside a Clearwater convenience store. McGlockton was unarmed. He had run into the store with his five-year-old, leaving his girlfriend of nine years and their other two children – one age three and one just four months old – in the car.

McGlockton’s girlfriend told CNN that Drejka – a stranger – drove up, parked, and started walking around her and her kids in their car. He “started yelling and cursing,” over the fact that McGlockton had parked in a handicapped space. When McGlockton came out of the store and saw Drejka confronting his family, he immediately intervened and pushed Drejka to the ground. While seated on the pavement, Drejka pulled a gun out and shot McGlockton in the chest, security footage shows. Mortally wounded, McGlockton fled into the convenience store, where he collapsed in front of his five-year-old son.

After Monday’s news that authorities arrested Drejka, state and national leaders responded:

Democratic governor’s candidate Andrew Gillum: “I’m relieved Markeis McGlockton’s family and the people of Clearwater will be heard in this horrific tragedy. I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them — and even sit-in when called upon — to make sure Britany Jacobs, Monica Moore-Robinson, Michael McGlockton, and Markeis’ children get the justice they deserve.

However, Stand Your Ground still created the environment where the shooter believed he had a legal right to murder Markeis McGlockton. I again call on Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency and suspend this law before someone else gets hurt or killed.”

Bay News 9’s Troy Kinsey reported on the reaction from national civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton in a Tweet:

Democratic governor’s candidate Gwen Graham:

“Today’s decision to charge Michael Drejka is a step toward justice for Markeis McGlockton — but it also exposes the fatal issues with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Stand Your Ground creates legal loopholes for murderers and ridiculous burdens for local law enforcement. We must repeal it.

“As Governor, I will lead an effort to repeal the law and examine legislation that protects those who are legitimately defending themselves, without creating a legal loophole for criminal behavior. I will also create a task force of prosecutors, community and civil rights leaders to take a look at every self-defense case where a death occurs to ensure that the law isn’t allowing criminals to slip through the cracks.”

Democratic candidate for governor Chris King:

“The state attorney’s office is doing what Sheriff Gualtieri has failed to do thus far –– seeking justice for the death of Markeis McGlockton. This community is crying out for action and the McGlockton family deserves justice, and that’s why I’ve been calling for leaders to act since this tragedy occurred. Today’s decision is another example why Florida’s broken ‘stand your ground’ law must be repealed so that justice in this case and every other tragedy can never be delayed or denied.”

Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.

1 COMMENT

  1. While I firmly believe you should be allowed to protect yourself, this shooter was simply a coward.

    If someone pushes you, or even punches you, your first instinct should not be to pull a gun and kill that person. It’s purely and simply cowardice and fear.
    Why are people so afraid in this country?

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