One would have to wonder how a man who was once considered one of Tampa’s top young educators could spiral downward so quickly such that he is now considered one of the city’s worst criminals. People who once trusted in Anthony Giancola must be pondering just that after his recent violent rampage in a Lealman neighborhood.
Giancola began teaching middle school in Tampa in 1991. After working with special-needs students at other schools, he took charge of the Dorothy Thomas Exceptional Center by 2006. That summer, he was promoted to principal of Van Buren Middle School.
In spite of that success, Giancola began using crack cocaine in December 2006. Just two months later, he was arrested for buying $20 of crack from an undercover officer in his Van Buren Middle School office during the school day. He ended up pleading guilty to purchasing crack cocaine, possessing crack cocaine and marijuana. He was sentenced to a year in jail and three years of probation.
Even that hardly explains what caused Giancola’s frenzied crime spree that began around 10:45 a.m. on June 22, 2012 in Lealman, a small city about 20 miles west of Tampa. In spite of his past highly-recognized work with special-needs students, Anthony selected a group home for the hearing impaired and stabbed four people, two of whom died. Fortunately, a child who lived there was not home at the time.
Next, Giancola went to the Kenvins Motel and bludgeoned the married couple who own it. Both were taken to a local hospital where the husband is in critical condition.
Then, he went to a house in the Pinellas Park and asked where he could find women, Residents sent an angry Giancola on his way but he soon returned and rammed his car into their porch, injuring three women and one man. The women were transported to the hospital but the man refused treatment. A witness was able to write down Anthony’s license plate information for the authorities.
Last, Giancola hit a 13-year-old boy who was riding his bike home after a fishing trip with his grandfather. The boy indicated he was hit twice and would have been hit a third time had he not been able to hide.
Officers said Anthony was picked up by his mother and sister as he sat outside the Egg Platter Restaurant in his idling Ford sedan. They took him to his mother’s house but he did not remain there resulting in his mom calling the sheriff’s department. Detectives found him hiding in the brush not far from his mother’s home.
While there have been no school administrators in the Tidewater area charged with a spree such as Anthony Giancola’s, one must remember that the National Drug Intelligence Center cited cocaine, particularly crack, is the primary drug threat to Virginia. No doubt, drugs, especially crack, can ruin the lives of even the best and brightest of any profession, including education. None of us is immune. Just say no!