- Tampa, Florida: Man Murdered on USF Campus -
- 3 Black Males Seen Fleeing from Murder Scene -
The Victim - Ronald Stem
- Ronald Stem - Age 57 -
- Veteran of Three Combat Tours in Vietnam, Master's Degree Student at the University of South Florida in Tampa -
- Details of the Crime -
On Thursday, February 9, at around midnight, Ronald Stem, 57, was shot in the back in the parking lot of the Magnolia Apartments, on the campus of the University of South Florida, in Tampa. Three Black males were caught on the security surveillance camera fleeing from the scene. Two of the assailants wore black, hooded sweatshirts and one of them wore a white, hooded sweatshirt. Several people heard the shots and one witnessed the three Black males running from the scene. Two vehicles were seen leaving the area right after the shooting: one a dark-colored SUV and the other a white sedan.
Mr. Stem had just visited his girlfriend, Sarah Cobb, who is a nursing student in her 50's, and who lives at the Magnolia Apartments. Mr. Stem had been working on his master's degree in marine biology and had worked as a part-time student assistant, although he was not taking any classes this semester. Mr. Stem was working full-time at a custom furniture shop in Tampa. He also worked at the shop as a night watchman.
The Office of Student Affairs has recommended students walk in groups, keep friends informed of their schedule and whereabouts and remember to lock doors of residence halls, apartments and vehicles. USF has two offices open and ready to counsel students with concerns.
Crime is no stranger to the students, who theorize Stem might have been shot by car burglars who regularly practice their trade here. In the fall semester, there was a stabbing at a McDonald's restaurant on Fletcher Avenue not far off campus.
Extra campus officers and Tampa police will patrol the complex until "we think it's safe," USF police Capt. J.D. Withrow said. Normally, three to five officers patrol the campus, which houses 4,400 students. During work hours, the population spikes to 55,000. USF Police Chief Pat Johnson wants to hire more officers to bolster his 47 sworn and 18 non-sworn officers.
Rapes are rare here - about one a year. Each week, car burglaries vary from zero to as many as 60 - the highest figure recorded in October, Johnson said. Students were offered free counseling from USF psychologist, Olga Skalkos.
"It's much safer than the surrounding neighborhoods," Johnson said. The best practices for students are to travel in groups, especially at night. "And don't leave doors unlocked."
Freshman Marc Muzzy heard a popping sound but didn't realize it was a gunshot. He and a buddy drove past Stem and thought he was drunk. They called police. An officer checked Stem's pulse and rolled him over.
"He had a small hole in his back," Muzzy said, "but there was a big exit wound in his chest."
Stem was known to Muzzy and nearly everyone as the old guy who looked like a 1960s peacenik with long, gray hair. He was a frequent visitor to the complex, where his girlfriend lives.
Muzzy wonders whether he should have gone to a smaller school where there isn't as much crime. In his second week of school, someone broke into his car. Now this.
"I really don't feel safe here," he said.
The last time there was a murder on the USF Tampa campus was in 1994 when a man shot his girlfriend after a concert.
- Ronald Stem's Killers Fleeing From the Murder Scene -
- Two Black Males Fleeing from Murder Scene -
- The third Black Male, Dressed in White -
- And his boss at the furniture shop, Cliff Wieser says itís a sad irony that a man who survived three combat tours in Vietnam is killed on a college campus that hasnít seen a murder in 12 years. -
- USF Police Seek Help Finding Shooter -
By Candace J. Samolinski
Published: Feb 13, 2006
Tampa - With his long hair and free-spirited way of living, Ronald Stem may not have embodied the physical ideal of a soldier or society's definition of a success.
Yet, family and friends say, the man shot to death Thursday in a University of South Florida parking lot was both.
A veteran of three combat tours in Vietnam and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, Stem lived his life according to what he called "the Army's honor code," cousin Roberta Bartholdi said. His handshake was his word, and he never left a loved one's needs unattended.
"He was the typical eccentric, eclectic, simple man," said Bartholdi, of South Carolina, who was close with Stem. "By a lot of society standards, he may not have been labeled a success. If you looked at his heart and his soul, he was successful in every sense of the word."
Stem, 57, was found face down in the parking lot adjoining Magnolia Apartments about 11:45 p.m. Thursday. He had been shot in the back. As he often did, Stem had gone to Magnolia to visit his girlfriend, Sarah Cobb, whom Bartholdi described as a nursing student in her 50s.
No arrests had been made Sunday, and those who cared for Stem were left to wonder what happened in the last few minutes of his life, which had its share of family tragedies.
USF police released two photographs from video surveillance cameras in the parking lots near the apartment complex.
Investigators hope the photographs will help identify three young men seen running through parking lot No. 47 after the fatal shot was fired, Sgt. Michael Klingebiel said. Police declined to comment on a motive for the shooting.
Whatever circumstances led to Stem's death, those closest to him will remember his love of life and ability to overcome the worst of times.
Stem's life took a downward turn on July 22, 1998, when his daughter, Laurie Ann, died at 14 of injuries suffered in a car crash in Homosassa. Stem and his former wife, Beverly, have a 24-year-old son, Michael.
"I don't think he ever really got over losing his daughter," said Stem's aunt, Adele Fluck, of Pennsylvania.
He pulled away from things he valued in life, including his love of teaching and his Army service, Bartholdi said. Soon after, Stem became homeless. Despite his financial state, Stem was known to spend his last dollar buying a sympathy card for a friend in need.
"I tried getting him help through the veterans' benefits office but, since he wasn't an alcoholic, he wasn't a drug addict and he had not just gotten out of prison, there wasn't much they could do," she said. "I finally convinced him to go back to school."
In 2002, Stem turned to a high school classmate, Annette Adkins of Tampa for help. He was her boarder for a year.
"We went to Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown, N.J., and graduated in 1966," Adkins said. "About 10 years before he moved in, he looked me up and said he was living in Spring Hill. He would stay here whenever he came down once a month to do his Army service in Tampa, so he wouldn't have to drive back."
After moving out of Adkins' home, Stem enrolled at USF in pursuit of a master's degree in marine biology, Bartholdi said. He worked as a resident assistant at Magnolia Apartments in 2003 and 2004, USF spokeswoman Lara Wade said. Stem had a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Miami.
Stem worked odd jobs between classes, including as a substitute teacher in Hillsborough County schools. Two years ago, he hosted a program of golden oldies on WUSF, 89.7 FM, Bartholdi said. Tuition costs forced Stem to leave school in 2004.
At the time of his death, he worked at Tansu Woodworks in Tampa while he pursued a civil service job.
"Whether he was pushing a broom or teaching a class, he gave 100 percent," said Bartholdi, who exchanged weekly e-mail with Stem and last saw him in January.
While at USF, Stem met Cobb. The couple had been planning to marry and buy a house together after her graduation, said Bartholdi, who with her sister, Carolyn Scott, spent the weekend comforting Cobb.
"They were so sweet together," she said. "I remember he always insisted on getting Sarah out of the car. He was from another time, I guess."
On Dec. 9, Stem was dealt another blow when his brother, Frederick, died of pulmonary embolism. He was 55 and Stem's closest relative. The men had lost their older brother, Bill, a few years earlier, and their parents before that.
As the family struggles to cope with the loss, nephew Justin Stem is left to make funeral arrangements for the second time in as many months.
"It's been a really tough time for all of us," he said.
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The First Link has a good video and two "still shots" from the surveillance video:
This Link has a photograph of Ronald Stem and a "still shot" from the surveillance video:
A Google News Search (ronald stem tampa) turned up only twelve articles; all but two are local. This is just more proof that random killings by Black males are not stories that the regional and national news media are interested in. All the more reason to log on to this and similar websites to stay informed about what is really happening.
This is another tragic story of a hard-working White person, who is randomly shot down for no apparent reason by three Black males. Ronald Stem was a man who had served three combat tours in Vietnam and came back to tell about it, only to get shot down in a parking lot, after having visited his girlfriend, by three Black Male punks.
The USF Police Chief talks about counseling being available for students - what can a counselor tell you? They'll tell you that it was just a "random killing" and that the killers weren't looking for anyone specific. Well, these are the worst kinds of killings, because this means that anyone could be the next victim. The campus police are telling students to go places in groups and to always let friends know where you are going and when you plan on arriving. In other words, the police are telling us that we have to live in fear in our own country - in fear of Black Domestic Terrorism. At least a soldier, when he is at war, knows that he might get shot at and he carries a gun to protect himself. But here, walking around in our own country, we are not allowed to carry a gun to protect ourselves. We are easy prey for the thousands and tens-of-thousands of predators on the streets.
The police say that they are going to increase patrols in the area around the university. When the criminal punks see the police on patrol, they'll go someplace else to rob and steal. If the police are really serious about doing something about this type of crime they would set up surveillance teams - this is the only way that they are going to catch anyone; that is - if the police are really interested in catching anyone. Personally, I think that the police are afraid to set up a surveillance or stake-out operation; they're afraid that the Black community would just scream "entrapment" if they were to arrest any Black male youth for burglarizing cars.
Because the police have their hands tied in this area, this means that the rest of us just have to live in fear and terror twenty-four hours a day. Isn't it wonderful that our Constitution guarantees us "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." We are living a "life" of fear and terror; we have the "liberty" to walk around in groups so that we are not mugged and shot, and we can all "pursue happiness" by huddling in our houses and apartments while the criminal element lurks and prowls around outside waiting for one of us to come out so that they can rob, rape and shoot us dead. Isn't it wonderful to have such constitutional guarantees?
And if the predators can't find what they want to steal in our cars and around our houses, they'll just break into our houses and apartments and rob, rape and kill us. As our readers know, "Home Invasion" is the latest specialty crime that Black males are turning to, because they can't find enough of us out on the streets to rob. Why? Because all of us are cowering in our houses and apartments, afraid and terrorized to go out after dark lest we become another victim of a robbery, rape or murder. How long will this go on before we start getting serious about doing something about the criminal element? For recent examples of Home Invasion crimes against Whites by Black males see the Harvey Family and George L. Wallace.
Yours Faithfully, Liberty