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Suspect named in counselor's killing

It is unknown whether the 41-year-old suspect had been a Tampa Metro Treatment Center client.

By LINDA GIBSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 31, 2001


TEMPLE TERRACE -- Police have issued a warrant charging a 41-year-old man with the fatal shooting of a substance abuse counselor during a botched robbery earlier this month.

Phillip Walker, 41, whose last known address was in Tampa, is charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery but remained at large Friday night. He frequents the east-central part of Tampa, said Temple Terrace police Capt. Tracy Mishler.

The department, CrimeStoppers and the Tampa Metro Treatment Center, where the victim worked, are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to Walker's arrest and conviction.

Sergio Guedes, 46, was shot March 18 while he struggled with an armed intruder at the Tampa Metro Treatment Center on Busch Boulevard.

He worked two jobs to support his wife and three children. One was at the treatment center, where he counseled drug addicts for more than a year.

"If it would have been somebody else who was shot, he would have been trying to make everybody else feel good, even though he might have been feeling bad inside," said Phillip Garrett, program director at the treatment center.

Thursday night, Mishler said, two witnesses identified Walker from police mug shots.

Witnesses described the intruder as a well-dressed man wearing a fedora who pointed a gun at Guedes and ordered him to knock on the door of a locked room containing drugs and money. When a female employee inside the room refused to open the door, Guedes and the gunman struggled. A single shot was fired, and the intruder ran.

Mishler didn't know whether Walker had been a client at the treatment center, and Garrett would not say. Walker has a history of arrests in Hillsborough for possession and delivery of heroin, possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia and possession of blank prescription forms.

CrimeStoppers can be reached by calling 1-800-873-8477.

- Linda Gibson can be reached at (813) 226-3382 or at gibson@sptimes.com.

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