POLK COUNTY, Fla. – 27-year-old Mark Anthony Callahan, Jr. of Dundee was arrested during the early morning hours of Monday, September 21, 2020, and charged with the following, in the fatal shooting of an adult male victim who was staying at the same hotel as Callahan.
• Second-degree murder
• Possession of a short-barreled shotgun
• Possession of meth
• Tampering with physical evidence
• Possession of drug paraphernalia
On Sunday, September 20th, the PCSO Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received 911 calls related to a shooting at the Monticello Motel (28500 US Hwy 27 in Dundee). When first responders arrived, they found the victim laying in the parking lot near a parked but running vehicle, with several gunshot wounds that appeared to be birdshot. He was taken to Heart of Florida Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
“It appears that this suspect, who has a criminal history, armed himself with an illegally-altered shotgun and waited for the victim to return. He then shot the man in cold blood and tried to lie about it when our deputies arrived. This dangerous felon belongs behind bars.” –Grady Judd, Sheriff
Two witnesses at the hotel confirmed some of the details, including the fact that the suspect said he knew the victim would be back because the victim left his phone in the suspect’s room.
Callahan’s criminal history includes 15 prior arrests in Georgia, including several DUIs, two hit-and-runs, cocaine possession, fleeing to elude, DWLSR, aggressive driving, and two probation violations; and 14 prior arrests in Florida, including meth possession, marijuana possession, and petit theft.
The following is an excerpt from the affidavit:
When deputies first arrived at the scene, they made contact with the suspect, Mark Callahan, in room number 17.
The suspect said he lived in room number 17, alone. The suspect said he knew the victim because the victim lived with his girlfriend a couple of rooms down from his. The suspect said that on the evening of 09/20/20, he was in his room and the victim approached his door. The suspect said the victim entered his room and they started to fight. The suspect said that while the victim was fighting with him, the victim armed himself with a pair of scissors and cut him several times. (The suspect had a minor cut below his right eye, a minor injury on his left ear, and minor scratches on his side.) The suspect said the victim left the area in a vehicle, but he said he would be back. The suspect said he went back in his room and then deputies came to his door a short time later. The suspect said he knew nothing about the victim being shot.
The suspect then said he did shoot the victim after the fight occurred in his room. The suspect said the victim did leave the area after the fight. The suspect said he armed himself with a shotgun he had in his room and approximately five to ten minutes later the victim pulled in the parking lot and started yelling at him to give him his phone. The suspect said he told the victim he did not have his phone. The suspect said the victim was walking around near the driver’s side of the vehicle he drove up in and it looked like he was reaching inside the vehicle. The suspect said the victim reached into his pocket and he thought the victim might be retrieving a gun. The suspect said he then fired the shotgun he had at the victim one time. The suspect said he was standing at his room door and the victim was standing near the vehicle he drove up in when he fired the shotgun. The suspect said that after he fired at the victim, he threw the shotgun over a privacy fence.
Based on the statement of the suspect and witnesses, the victim was approximately 36 feet away from the suspect when he was shot by the suspect. According to witnesses, the victim did not approach the suspect when he arrived back at the motel, the victim did reach into his pocket and that is when the suspect shot him. The victim also lived at the motel and had a legal right to be at the motel.
The suspect and victim did get into a physical fight in the suspect’s motel room, but when the fight was over, the victim left the area, returning a few minutes later. Once the victim arrived back at the motel, he parked approximately 35 feet away from the suspect’s room door. Once the victim got out of the vehicle, he started yelling for the suspect to give him his phone, while still standing near his vehicle. The victim reached into his pocket and that is when the suspect fired his shotgun at him, from approximately 36 feet away. At no time during the shooting did the victim say he had a gun or he was retrieving a weapon. There was no testimony indicating the victim approached or advanced towards the suspect when he arrived back at the motel. Your Affiant has established probable cause, based on the circumstances, that the suspect committed murder in the 2nd degree when he intentionally fired a shotgun at the victim, when he was not in danger of bodily harm at that moment in time.
During the investigation, a search warrant was obtained to search the suspect’s room. During a search of the suspect’s motel room, a glass bowl pipe containing white residue was located in his bathroom. The white residue field tested positive for Methamphetamine. The shotgun used by the suspect was located on the ground in the area of where the suspect said he threw it over a fence. The barrel of the shotgun was sawed off and the barrel length was 12 inches long in violation of F.S.S. 790.221 (Possession of a Short-Barreled Shotgun).