SHS-O'Neal, Donny (Class of 1984) News Account of Death
Family mourns man who died in jail cell Wilton Manors police say he hung himself shortly after his arrest By Juan Ortega STAFF WRITER When he wasn't at work repairing cars, Gary O'Neal often was home, spending time with his wife of 18 years and his three children, family members said. His family on Thursday was coping with the 43-year-old Tamarac man's death after Wilton Manors police say he committed suicide at their police station Tuesday night. "He was very loving," said O'Neal's mother-in-law, Fran Bambino, who lived with O'Neal's family in a tan, barrel-tiled home in the Lake Colony subdivision. "He rode his bicycle all the time with his kids." O'Neal's father served in the Air Force, rising to colonel, requiring his family to move often. They traveled to Spain and New York before settling in Satellite Beach, a beachside town in Brevard County near Patrick Air Force Base, said O'Neal brother-irMlaw, Mike Amos, 46, of Charlotte, ; N.C. O'Neal later moved to Broward, where he lived with his wife, Do-neen, and three children, ages 3 to 12, family said. On Tuesday, he worked his regular shift, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at An-' derson's Auto Services, where he was an employee since January, said the repair shop's owner, Andy Anderson. Nothing seemed wrong with O'Neal, he said. "He was a fantastic technician who did his job well," Anderson said. But at about 9:45 p.m., police arrested O'Neal at Palm Garden apartments, a complex adjacent to Anderson's Auto in the 2700 block of North Andrews Avenue. Residents accused him of yelling racial obscenities, beating on their doors and challenging people to fight, police said. Cleevens Frederic, 34, a witness, said the man was belligerent and may have been upset over someone asking him to leave an apartment. "He was chasing everybody," Frederic said. "He was saying obscene language, and people were telling him to leave the premises." O'Neal was charged with disorderly conduct and taken to the police station, where he was placed in a O'Neal holding cell by himself, police spokesman Detective David Jones said. O'Neal was due to be taken to Broward's Main Jail around midnight, Jones said. Instead, he tore a piece of cloth from his T-shirt and tied it around a grate in the cell door to hang himself at about 11 p.m., police said. He was found hanging during a periodic check done every 15 to 20 minutes, Jones said. Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead. An autopsy conducted Wednesday showed he died from "asphyxia due to hanging," the Broward Medical Examiner's Office said. A police report detailing O'Neal's arrest wasn't available Thursday, police said. Jones said police are looking into whether drugs or alcohol might have been involved. O'Neal showed no suicidal tendencies and was compliant while in custody, Jones said. The holding cell is part of a decades-old building, and did not have surveillance video, Jones said. But in about six weeks, police intend to move to a facility equipped with such technology. Juan Ortega can be reached at jcorte-gasunsentinel.com or 954-356-4701.