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Activist flashed gun in bar, police say

The man fighting a mobile home park sale was found with a handgun and a knife.

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published June 4, 2006


PINELLAS PARK - Mobile home activist Charles Plancon was flashing a gun and making rambling threats about killing guys who were giving him trouble before he was arrested, according to witness and police statements.

The police report, released Friday, gives the first glimpse into the scene at the Nickel City Bar and Grille in the early hours of Memorial Day.

Plancon, 43, accused of two felonies and two misdemeanors, was still in jail Friday on $30,750 bail.

Plancon has made headlines as the last holdout against the redevelopment of the Golden Lantern Mobile Home Park, essentially becoming the poster boy for mobile home owners displaced by development. He has a pending civil case against Pinellas County that alleges that the county violated its own rules when granting rezoning and a land-use change to the Golden Lantern so that it could be redeveloped.

He has traveled the Tampa Bay area lobbying municipal, county and state officials for legislation protecting mobile home owners against developers. Plancon also worked to organize mobile home owners to fight to save their parks.

Plancon's public defender refused to allow him to be interviewed, so his version of the events of last weekend are unknown. But a preliminary police report describes what witnesses and officers say happened:

John Thompson told officers he was playing foosball with Plancon at Nickel City, a bar within walking distance of the Golden Lantern.

At some point during the game, Thompson said in a written statement to Pinellas Park police officers, Plancon "was talking about last night and how he had problems with some guys. He then let me touch his jacket pocket, which, to me, felt like a gun. From here I decided he was a threat to the bar. So, we called 5-0! Love you."

Thompson wrote that Plancon was talking about the "Vietnam War, how he loves his daughter and if the guys came back in, he would get revenge from last night. He had made a comment about killing guys that were giving him problems, was lifting his jacket repeatedly ... I then felt the gun. He said that's not all, lifted his jacket. I thought he had another gun! He was rambling about how he loved his daughter and how he would kill the guys from last night."

Pinellas Park police arrived at the bar, at 7658 Park Blvd., where manager James Fike told them that a patron had been showing other customers a handgun.

"Once I entered the business, I noticed a white male sitting in a chair with a large knife handle near the small of his back," according to the police report.

The nonfolding knife was about 12 inches long in a black sleeve, according to officers.

Officers arrested Plancon at that point and searched him.

They said Plancon had a black 9mm Highpoint handgun with seven rounds in his left front jacket pocket. Officers said they found three hydrocodone and two carisprodol pills in his right front jacket pocket. Carisprodol is a muscle relaxant used to relieve pain caused by strains, sprains and other muscle injuries. Hydrocodone is a pain reliever. Plancon has complained of back pain from previous injuries.

Officers said that after they read Plancon his rights, he "stated that the mob is after him and his children." Plancon said he brought the gun to Nickel City to defend himself and that the large knife was his backup weapon.

"Plancon went on to say that he does not need a concealed-weapons permit to protect himself. Plancon advised that the pills found in his jacket are his and that he has a prescription for the medicine through Bay Pines VA Medical Center."

Plancon, who is a felon, was charged with two felonies, possession of a firearm by a felon and carrying a concealed firearm, and two misdemeanors, carrying a concealed weapon (the knife) and possession of drugs without a prescription.