Saturday, January 26, 2013
For more than three years, Deanna Mendoza dealt with a stream of stressful calls as a dispatcher for the Tampa Police Department.
On Thursday, another dispatcher took a 911 call. The dispatcher didn’t know it at the time, but the call involved Mendoza.
The sheriff’s office said Mendoza was confronted by her armed, estranged husband outside his mother’s home, 8361 Galewood Circle in Tampa.
A neighbor heard gunshots at about 9 a.m. and ran to the driveway to find Mendoza slumped over in the front seat and her husband, Pedro Mendoza, slumped over in the back seat of her Hyundai Sonata, said Cristal Bermudez Nuñez, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s spokeswoman.
Deanna Mendoza was the victim of a murder-suicide, the sheriff’s office said.
Tom Wolff, Tampa police communications manager and Deanna Mendoza’s supervisor, said the office staff is shaken over the news.
“We’re used to dealing with the calls coming in, meaning somebody on the outside, not somebody within our own family here at communications,’’ Wolff said.
Mendoza’s father, Lou Litus of Tampa, said his daughter never thought Pedro Mendoza would harm her. They had been married about two years, he said. She had filed for divorce in July, but he kept calling her, sometimes 10 to 20 times a day, he said.
“He’d sweet talk her into staying,” Litus said. “He never changed his ways.”
Litus said he’s in shock.
“You’re talking to her one day; next day there’s no more,” Litus said. “I don’t think it’s caught up with me yet.”
Sheriff’s detectives think Deanna Mendoza drove to the home, and at some point, Pedro Mendoza came out and the shooting occurred, Bermudez Nuñez said.
“It’s hard to tell if she was just arriving or trying to leave,” said Bermudez Nuñez.
She was a professional at work who came to the office in good spirits and with a smile, Wolff said. She handled 911 calls, dispatch calls and trained new employees.
She started working for Tampa police in October 2009 as a communications technician I and had been promoted to communications technician III. Mendoza was the agency’s employee of the month in January 2012 and was acknowledged for her ability to remain calm and upbeat during emergency situations.
She had three children; Pedro Mendoza had four.
Pedro Mendoza, 42, had a criminal history and had been in prison several times, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.