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More charges for man accused in rampage

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000

LAND O'LAKES -- Pasco authorities have added two more charges to the case against a 35-year-old Wesley Chapel man in connection with an armed rampage in San Antonio Monday night.

James O'Neill, 7701 Bay Pines Drive, was charged Tuesday with child neglect and possession of a short-barrel shotgun.

O'Neill also faces charges in Pasco of home invasion robbery, attempted kidnapping, aggravated assault, shooting into an occupied dwelling and possession of marijuana. He is being held without bail.

O'Neill is accused of slashing the face of his estranged wife, Danita O'Neill, with a box cutter at her Lutz home Monday night. He then put their 3-year-old son in his blue van and headed for Pasco County, authorities say.

When his van broke down on State Road 52 west of San Antonio, he blasted the front door of one home with the sawed-off shotgun, according to reports. Then he walked up the road and entered another home, where he fired a shot into the ceiling and forced an elderly man to surrender his car at gunpoint, reports said.

O'Neill abandoned the stolen car near the middle of San Antonio and walked around orange groves, with his son in one arm and the loaded shotgun in the other, before he surrendered to deputies. His son, Liam, suffered minor cuts from the orange trees. The boy was placed temporarily in the protective custody of the state Department of Children and Families.

Danita O'Neill remained at Tampa General Hospital Wednesday in critical condition.

Hillsborough deputies on Wednesday charged O'Neill with attempted murder, armed burglary, false imprisonment and violation of a domestic violence injunction.

Fire that destroyed home called suspicious

LACOOCHEE -- An early morning fire authorities consider suspicious destroyed an old wooden house Wednesday, Dade City Fire/Rescue reported.

The fire broke out at 38849 Chase St. at 4:30 a.m. The house was unoccupied at the time, and no injuries were reported.

On Tuesday night, just hours before the fire, Pasco deputies visited the house to investigate a report of people trespassing on the property with flashlights, sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said.

A state fire marshall was investigating the cause of the blaze Wednesday.

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