TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — The family of a man accused of killing a Tarpon Springs police officer is speaking up as the suspect sits in jail Monday morning.
The Tarpon Springs Police Department identified the fallen officer as 45-year-old Charles Kondek, a 17-year veteran of the police department. The father of five was killed in the line of duty while responding to a noise complaint.
"So we grieve. We grieve as an agency and for his family who has suffered a great loss today," said Tarpon Springs police Chief Robert Kochen.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that the shooting happened about 3 a.m. Sunday in the Tampa Bay-area city and that the suspect, Marco Parilla Jr., 23, was taken into custody shortly after.
The suspect's aunt, Jauna Manendez, said Parilla is not close to his own parents. She said she tried taking him under her wing, but hasn't seen her nephew in two years
"It really shocked me," said Manendez. "He was a nice kid. He never used to be a problem until now."
Manendez said Parilla got involved with the wrong type of people for what he thought was good reasons.
"That he is in a gang, he feel that somebody has to take (care) of him," she said.
Channel 9 learned Parilla had been released from prison in March after serving time for drug charges.
With 30 arrests under his belt, Parilla told investigators he shot the officer because he felt like a caged rat and knew he was heading back to prison because there was a warrant out for his arrest.
As he was escorted off to jail, Parilla apologized.
“I apologize to the family. That was not my intention,” he said.
"If he say he don't mean to do it, it's because he is not a bad boy," said Manendez.
"I don't care what he told you as he was walking in the jail. It's all a bunch of nonsense. He knew what he was doing. He killed a cop, and he needs to be held accountable for that," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
Originally from New York, Kondek had previously served on the New York City Police Department for more than five years, authorities said.
Authorities say Kondek responded to a call for service shortly after 2 a.m. Police said Parilla, a transient, shot at the officer and then fled the scene in a vehicle, and crashed into a pole and another vehicle. He was then apprehended by police at that location.
Parilla is charged with first-degree murder.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings released a statement regarding Kondek's death and the shooting deaths of two NYPD officers on Saturday.
The statement read, in part, "These incidents may be attributed as collateral damage caused by the dissonance in the national conversation on police-community relations. I urge all Americans and more importantly, our Orange County community, to temper such dialogue."
A memorial fund has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank for Kondek. Anyone that wishes to make a donation may do so at any Wells Fargo bank branch.
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