Michael Valentin helped protect homeless men and women as a peace officer in New York City for nine years. When he and his family moved to Tampa more than a year ago, it was Valentin's work experience and friendliness that most impressed his new bosses.
Largo-based security company Critical Intervention Services hired Valentin in October and assigned him to night detail at the Grande Oak Apartments on East Hanna Avenue.
On Wednesday, shortly after 8 p.m., the 38-year-old husband and father of two sons, ages 4 and 9, was killed from what Tampa police described only as "upper body trauma."
Residents told Tampa police they heard at least one gunshot, but officers would not say if Valentin was killed by a bullet.
No arrest had been made Thursday evening. Police said they wanted to speak with two unnamed people about the slaying but did not describe either as a suspect.
On Thanksgiving Day no one answered at the Valentin family's apartment in the Willow Brooke complex off 42nd Street in East Tampa.
A neighbor, Nell Johnson, said the family moved in about a year and a half ago -- partly, he believes, to be closer to family members living in the area. "He said they just wanted a change," the slain man's neighbor said.
Johnson, who works during the day, said he often saw Valentin as the officer left for his nighttime security job at Grande Oaks.
"He was a hard-working guy. He was all about his family," Johnson said. "He was solid. He's been a good neighbor; a stand-up guy."
Before coming to Tampa, Valentin was a peace officer with the New York City Homeless Service Police from June 2001 until August 2010. He attained the rank of sergeant, according to a news release from Critical Intervention Services.
According to CIS, Valentin moved to Florida from Brooklyn and worked as an unarmed security officer from September 2010 until he joined CIS in October. His previous employer is not identified in the news release.
Valentin completed a basic training course for peace officer in 2001 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He also took courses from the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services.
He completed Florida-mandated security license training and was licensed by the state as an armed security officer. Valentin completed field training with CIS in October.
"Officer Valentin was specifically chosen for his CIS assignment owing to his community-oriented mindset and experience while working with the homeless in New York," the company news release states. "His peers and supervisors described him as being friendly, community-focused, and (a) dedicated father and husband."
Another CIS security officer, 26-year-old Matthew Little, was shot to death while on duty in May 2011 at Mariners Pointe Apartments in St. Petersburg. Bradley Bolden, 21, of St. Petersburg is charged with Little's death and remains at the Pinellas County Jail. Shortly after his arrest, police said, Bolden told detectives he disliked security officers and police.
On Thursday, there was heightened security at Grande Oaks as black-clad CIS security officers monitored vehicles entering and leaving the complex.
Tampa police were dispatched to Grande Oaks at about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday after one of two security officers on duty reported a possible suspect wanted on a warrant. Police were at the rear of the complex when they heard a security guard had been injured or killed in front of the clubhouse.
Valentin's gun still was secured in his holster, police said.