Homeless man helps
capture accused cop killer
Mark Spradley, who was living in his car, smiles after receiving $3,500 in rewards for telling police the whereabouts of an escaped convict.
Photo from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
A homeless man whose tip led to the capture of an escaped prisoner accused of fatally shooting a sheriff's deputy in Fort Lauderdale has been called a hero and given thousands of dollars in assistance.
Mark Spradley said a man flagged him down for a ride, telling him a story about trouble with a relationship. They drove around for two hours, ate at a soup kitchen and then went to a pawn shop where Spradley wanted to buy some speakers.
Unknown to Spradley, the man -- Michael Mazza -- had been en route to court for a robbery trial earlier that day when he shot 76-year-old Deputy Paul Rein.
When Spradley went inside the pawn shop, he saw Mazza's picture on the television and alerted the store manager, who called 911.
Spradley has been presented with a total of $3,500 from two organizations at the Broward Sheriff's Office and $2,500 more from the National Police Defense Foundation. Although the Defense Foundation usually waits for an arrest and conviction to take place before offering money, Michael Barry said they are making an exception for Spradley because he is homeless and living in his 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic.
"Mr. Spradley put himself in tremendous jeopardy," he said. "We felt it would be appropriate to make an exception to our own regulation."
Spradley soon may get even more money. He is eligible for $25,000 in reward money from Crime Stoppers.
Spradley said since the incident he has spoken with his mother, who lives in West Virginia. She told him "not to pick up anybody no more," he said.
Read the South Florida Sun-Sentinel article here.