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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 4 years ago

Longboat Lore: Holiday Inn murder shocked Longboat Key residents

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

On a quiet summer evening Aug. 25, 1978, at the Longboat Key Holiday Inn, a tragedy unfolded that shocked the Key.

That’s when two men who had recently escaped from a Washington state prison work-release program and a 15-year-old girl somehow found their way to the popular hotel on the north end of the Key.

One man, Steven Critzer, began drinking volcanoes in the hotel’s lounge, where a Longboat Key detective was also having a drink. The bartender told the detective he thought Critzer had a gun, but the detective found nothing when he searched him.

But, within 30 minutes, Critzer had taken four hostages on the beach. He then shot and killed a 17-year-old tourist.

A two-hour, multi-agency manhunt ensued, with Critzer taking cover behind St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church, and SWAT team members taking their pursuit to the Pattigeorge’s rooftop. Critzer was captured 12 hours after the shooting and eventually sentenced to life in prison.

+ Hit this baby one more time
Police got a crack in their case when a 48-year-old Bradenton driver refused to stop for police Aug. 22, 2001.

After they caught up with him, the man held a crack pipe out of the window of his car and asked police for permission to take one more hit before they arrested him. He admitted to snorting cocaine and smoking crack since the afternoon prior.

Police didn’t arrest his passenger, who had jumped out of the moving vehicle. He told police he had already shot up all of his heroin and wasn’t a crack user.

+ Code Enforcement Board took shape
The Longboat Key Code Enforcement Board held its first meeting Aug. 24, 1981, to discuss ground rules and procedures for addressing code conundrums.

Times have changed: Board members have called the last two meetings to address why they never have meetings anymore.

The answer: The town’s code-enforcement officer has been able to bring properties into compliance before their owners have to go before the board.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].

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