FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – A formerly homeless man who tipped off police to the location of a man wanted for the murder of a Broward Sheriff’s deputy has received the second half of his reward.
“Everyone is a role model, everyone can do the right thing,” said Mark Spradley.
In November 2007, Spradley was living in his 1975 Chevy Caprice when a man asked him for a ride. That man was Michael Mazza, who was the subject of a countywide manhunt in the murder of sheriff’s deputy Paul Rein.
The 76-year-old Rein had been transporting Mazza from a jail facility in Pompano Beach to court to face trial for armed robbery when the wheelchair bound inmate allegedly overpowered the deputy. When Rein reportedly pulled over to secure a safety harness, Mazza grabbed the deputy’s gun and shot him in the head. He then dumped Rein’s body on the side of the road as he made his escape in the jail’s van.
He later dumped it in Ft. Lauderdale and was able to elude police for several hours. At one point he got in the car with Spradley. The pair drove to a pawn shop in Hollywood where Spradley saw on something on TV which shocked him.
When I looked up at the television and saw it was him, I said, “Oh my God, he is in my car,” said Spradley.
He asked the shopkeeper to call police. Spradley said he then went back to the car to stall Mazza, not knowing the man had a gun.
“I saw he had a bag, and I thought he had food in the bag and was homeless. But God was with me. If I had known he had a gun, I probably would have jumped out of the car at the light,” said Spradley.
At the time, the National Police Defense Foundation had offered a $10,000 Safe Cop reward for information which led to the capture and conviction of anyone who killed a police officer.
Because Spradley was homeless, the NPDF made an exception and presented him with two $2,500 payments — one immediately and one following Mazza’s conviction. On Thursday, the NPDF presented him with the balance of his reward.
“He is a real American hero. He was courageous and did the right thing,” said NPDF Executive Director Joseph Occhipinti.
Spradley also received a $25,000 reward from Broward Crime Stoppers.
Last February 2011, Mazza pled guilty to four counts: murder, robbery, carjacking and escape from a law enforcement officer and was sentenced to four terms of life in prison. He is now serving that sentence.