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For now, police will maintain presence at hospice

By Times staff writers
Published April 1, 2005

[Times photo: Willie J. Allen Jr.]
Pinellas Park police officers stare down Terri Schiavo supporter Karl Henderson of Denver as he gives them a Nazi salute outside Woodside Hospice Villas in Pinellas Park earlier this week.

Pinellas Park police said they would remain at Hospice House Woodside at least through today, and then meet with hospice officials to decide if further security is needed, said department spokesman Sanfield Forseth.

Protesters will be allowed to remain, Forseth said.

"The people have a right to be on the sidewalk and on the right of way," he said. "I believe that once the media packs up and goes home, most of the protesters will go."


Schiavo remembered at Mass

Shortly after noon Thursday, about 50 worshipers gathered for Mass in the cavernous sanctuary of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa.

The stained-glass windows softened the midday sun. The church's heavy wooden doors blocked out the noises of downtown, leaving a still silence inside.

Father Don Saunders mentioned Terri Schiavo, prayed for her soul. Then he offered Holy Communion to those present. "Go in peace," Saunders said, and the faithful filed out quietly, past the 42 lit candles, each representing a prayer.


Students await word to return

About 600 children who attend school next to the hospice will continue to report to a temporary location until police tell them they can return.

The school district moved Cross Bayou Elementary students to other schools Monday, citing an unstable situation at the hospice.

"Until we get an okay from the local police, we're going to stay there," said principal Marcia Stone. "The last thing they want to have to deal with is all of us if it's still as congested and involved as it was."

Stone said the district would decide today if the children will return to Cross Bayou on Monday.


Alma mater honors Schiavo

At Terri Schiavo's alma mater, Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Pa., workers changed a sign that read "Terri Schiavo, Class of 1981, We pray that you may live" to "We pray that you rest in peace."

"It's sad. Why not let the lady live?" said John Rogers, one of the workers who changed the sign. "Feed the lady, let her live. This is America."

- Associated Press

Area officers observe scene

Officials from several law enforcement agencies outside Pinellas Park were on hand at the hospice on Thursday to see how the local Police Department handled the crowd, the media and the traffic.

"Even our department got some e-mails from people angry at the police, thinking this is in our jurisdiction," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt. "This is a huge event, and there's always the potential for violence to occur. From everything I've seen, these guys (Pinellas Park police) have done a really good job."


Case still in Greer's court

The Schiavo case revisited Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer's courtroom Thursday afternoon with a hearing scheduled weeks ago. Greer is the judge who ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed.

The St. Petersburg Times and Media General, which owns the Tampa Tribune, had previously sought the release of 89 abuse report summaries received by the Florida Department of Children and Families through the years involving Schiavo. None had led to DCF intervention in the case until February.

The hearing opened 41/2 hours after Schiavo drew her last breath.

When Greer walked into courtroom B, the usual crush of media that had accompanied every Schiavo hearing in recent weeks was gone. Just three TV cameras trained on him. No more than a half dozen reporters scribbled notes.

Greer said nothing of Schiavo's passing, except a brief reference to "the ward's passing" during legal argument.

DCF asked the judge to keep its records sealed. "It's time to end this case," said DCF attorney Jennifer Lima-Smith.

Newspaper lawyers argued it was in the best interest of the public to see the workings of its government. Greer said he would review the matter. Then he quickly walked out, bailiffs clearing a path to his office and following closely.


Neighbors hope for calm

With the news of Terri Schiavo's death, some of Michael Schiavo's Clearwater neighbors hoped for a return to normalcy. The neighborhood has drawn scores of protesters and throngs of media in the past few weeks.

"I hope this brings an end to the craziness," said next-door neighbor Tina Queen. Queen said she has mostly stayed inside to avoid the scene, and has told her daughters, 12 and 9, to do the same.

"People get a little crazy sometimes," she said. "Do they (protesters) really think it's going to change anything if you come and do something in his driveway? I hope all this calms down now."

Fred Eichler, 57, who lives across the street, said he hopes for "a peaceful closure to the whole situation and the parents and Michael can mend their troubled past and get on with their lives."

"It's a relief for him, for us, for everyone. It's hard to look out the window and see a SWAT team parked outside."


[Last modified April 1, 2005, 08:45:57]

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