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Florida mayor who shot at deputies is suspended from office by governor

"Dale Glen Massad is clearly unfit to continue serving as Mayor for the City of Port Richey," the governor said.

Florida’s governor announced Friday he has formally suspended the mayor of Port Richey, a day after the mayor was arrested for allegedly practicing medicine without a license and shooting at deputies serving a search warrant.

"Dale Glen Massad is clearly unfit to continue serving as Mayor for the City of Port Richey," Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement.

"It is in the best interest of the residents of the City of Port Richey and citizens of the state of Florida that Dale Glen Massad be immediately suspended from public office," DeSantis said.

Image: Massad, Mayor of Port Richey, Florida, U.S., appears in a booking photo in New Port Richey
Dale Massad, mayor of Port Richey, Florida, appears in a booking photo provided by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office on Feb. 22, 2019.Pasco County Sheriff's Office / Reuters

Massad, 68, was arrested on Thursday and he allegedly fired two rounds at Pasco County Sheriff SWAT team members after they announced themselves while approaching his house Thursday morning, the sheriff has said.

No officers were struck. Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said Thursday that his office used the SWAT team to serve the warrant because Massad is a known drug-user and weapons-owner with a history of violence.

Massad is being held in jail without bail. He faces five counts of attempted murder, four counts of practicing medicine without a license and two counts of illegal use of a two-way communication device. He appeared in court via video conference Friday, NBC affiliate WFLA of Tampa reported.

His attorney, Marc Salton, who said in court he was making a limited appearance in the case, said that Massad was unaware who was breaking down his front door, according to WFLA.

"With the explosions and the door coming in, shotguns being fired at the door, you get heat of passion, sudden impacts and any of these pops they heard were heard immediately after that, so there's a lot of issues in that," Salton said, according to the station.

Online court records do not indicate if Massad has entered a plea.

A criminal complaint found in online court records alleges that Massad fired two .40-caliber rounds at officers there to serve the warrant.

Massad allegedly told police that he was awakened by loud bangs at his front door, grabbed an Heckler & Koch firearm that he kept on a headboard and exited his bedroom and fired two shots into a hallway, according to the complaint affidavit.

The affidavit says an officer knocked and announced officers were there three times, then an officer used a shotgun to shoot at the locking mechanisms on the door, and a “distraction device” that emits a bang and bright light was placed on the interior of the door, at which point the shots were heard.

Nocco said Thursday that Massad is lucky to be alive after firing at police.

The arrest was the result of a four-month investigation that found that Massad, who lost his medical license in 1992, was allegedly practicing medicine out of his home, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Port Richey is a city of around 2,600 around 30 miles northwest of Tampa. Massad was elected mayor in a special election in 2015.