Port Richey, FL – The now-former mayor of Port Richey is in jail facing multiple felony charges after he opened fire on SWAT officers serving a warrant at his home on Thursday.
Pasco County SWAT Team members were assisting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in serving a warrant on 68-year-old Dale Massad when the mayor used an H&K handgun to fire two rounds in the direction of approaching officers, NBC News reported.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said they used the SWAT Team to serve the warrant because Massad had a history of violence and was a known drug user and gun owner.
FDLE said the arrest was the culmination of a four-month-long investigation into whether Massad, a former physician who lost his medical license in 1992, was practicing medicine out of his home, NBC reported.
According to an affidavit, police knocked and announced themselves three times before using a shotgun to breach the front door.
Once inside, officers deployed a “distraction device” and bright lights, according to NBC News.
That’s when Massad opened fire on the officers.
He told the police he was awakened by loud bangs and grabbed the gun from his headboard and fired two shots into the hallway, NBC reported.
Sheriff Nocco said Massad was lucky to be alive after opening fire on a SWAT Team.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Declan Mansfield ordered Massad to be held without bond at the Pasco County jail, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
He is charged with 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, NBC News reported.
One of Massad’s attorneys, Marc Salton, argued that the attempted murder charges were unsubstantiated and required premeditation, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“He’d have to know that he’s shooting at somebody and… that he’s shooting at [at] least five people,” Salton, a former county judge, said.
Prosecutor Bryan Doeg argued that Massad posed a real threat to the community.
Doeg argued against bond for the Port Richey Mayor because he said that Massad had told the police they should shoot him.
The prosecutor also said that Massad had asked if the charges could go away if he left the United States.
Another attorney for Massad, Frank Bianco, said that his client has a hearing problem that contributed to the confusion during the raid at his home, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Bianco said Massad’s reaction was normal for someone startled awake by a SWAT Team entry.
He said authorities only served the warrant that way because Massad was a political figure, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Bianco said he wants to do his own investigation to determine where the bullets went that his client fired.
The judge’s decision to hold Massad in custody came shortly after Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced that Massad was also under investigation for insurance fraud.
Investigators are looking into whether Massad billed insurance companies for procedures he performed illegally in his home, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Friday, the day after Massad’s arrest, that he had formally suspended the Port Richey mayor from office, NBC News reported.
“Dale Glen Massad is clearly unfit to continue serving as Mayor for the City of Port Richey,” 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.”
The governor’s office has not said if an interim mayor has been appointed, according to the Tampa Bay Times.