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Crime veteran charged in 2005 fatal shooting

He is accused of killing a man in a robbery.

By THOMAS LAKE
Published October 29, 2006


Bulmaro Lopez came from Mexico. He lived in a mobile home north of Dade City. He was 18 years old, trying to learn English, until one day in November when a robber shot him in the head.

Months passed without an arrest in the case. Then, in September, county authorities issued a warrant for a violent career criminal named Richard Mitchell. And on Friday afternoon, they charged him with shooting Lopez to death.

Mitchell, 43, who most recently lived at the Lakeview mobile home park in Zephyrhills, has nearly 30 arrests on his Florida record, including burglary, larceny and aggravated battery with a knife. Now authorities have added a new one: first-degree murder.

The shooting took place about 10:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Carringer Trailer Park, 37412 Carringer Road. A second man, apparently Lopez's 18-year-old cousin, was beaten during the robbery.

Mitchell, wanted on other charges, led authorities from three agencies on a chase through Pasco and Hernando counties before a police dog picked up his scent and found him hiding in an orange grove.

Mitchell was not charged in the slaying then. But he gained further notoriety for a separate incident involving a gun.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, while Mitchell was strapped to a hospital bed, Deputy Erik Vasquenz drew his .40-caliber Glock and aimed it at Mitchell, saying, "We're not going to have any trouble out of you today, are we?"

After his partner reported the incident, Vasquenz was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

Mitchell was held without bail Saturday at the Land O'Lakes jail. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Thomas Lake can be reached toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245 or tlake@sptimes.com.