INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — The city employee charged recently with assaulting and injuring his boss and at least one other co-worker was officially fired last week by City Manager Gregg Mims.
Errol Sylvester Gray, 52, a city employee for 10 years, was also officially banned from all city property and the city’s solid waste facility on Starkey Road in Largo.
Gray was arrested July 10 and charged with aggravated battery, four counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, simple battery, and resisting an officer without violence.
He was released from jail on $61,150 bail about 12 hours after his arrest.
“Were you allowed to return to the workplace, your relationship with those other employees of the city with whom you have violently battered would be, to say the least, difficult,” Mims said in his letter to Gray.
Mims said he was terminating Gray since city employees would be justified for “being in regular fear for their safety since the city cannot effectively prevent you from repeating your violent and destructive conduct.”
The incident began when Gray, a solid waste services supervisor, was called into his boss’s office on July 10 for a disciplinary review for an act of insubordination. It was one day after the anniversary of his joining the city.
Gray had repeatedly refused to perform work assigned to him, according to Mims.
Public Services Director Dean Scharmen initially did not plan to fire Gray, Mims said, but rather planned to impose a “lesser form of discipline.’’
When Gray “continued to be disrespectful and insubordinate (and) … stormed out of his office,” Scharmen changed his mind and decided to fire Gray.
Gray returned to Scharmen’s office and when told he was being fired, he “began a vicious physical assault on (Scharmen) causing injuries serious enough” to be hospitalized.
Scharmen was later discharged and is on medical leave from the city.
Another public services employee who witnessed Gray attacking Scharmen and tried to call 911 was attacked as well by Gray, causing injuries that required medical treatment, Mims said.
Gray then left and took a city truck, “violently revving its engine and circling City Hall,” according to Mims.
“As law enforcement approached, you then fled the scene causing deputies to give chase,” Mims continued.
According to Pinellas Sheriff’s deputies, Gray initially refused to stop and then when he did stop, he refused to get out of the truck.
Mims said this “required deputies to draw their weapons.”
When Gray finally got out and was apprehended, he told deputies “your next step was going to be to plow the city vehicle through the wall of my office,” Mims said.
Gray’s personnel file reveals a lengthy history of disciplinary reports, mostly involving multiple accidents with city vehicles.
Over the years he was regularly promoted despite being issued several suspensions and warnings of termination over those accidents.
Gray’s last job evaluation ranked him as either “outstanding” or “commendable” in all categories, with comments ranging from “produces quality work” to makes “sound decisions” and “is a positive employee.”
As a community service lead worker who supervised other solid waste service employees, Gray was earning more than $37,000 at the time he was fired. When he began working for the city in 2009 he earned slightly over $22,000.
“The city, more often than not, used a light touch” when disciplining Gray, according to Mims.
In his four-page letter of termination, Mims informed Gray that any of his personal property would be boxed and sent to his home address in Wesley Chapel.
He asked Gray to mail any city property in his possession back to the city.