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Sheriff: Gunman shot and killed man with sawed-off shotgun at Polk County motel

Mark Callahan Jr., 27, is charged with second-degree murder, possession of a short-barreled shotgun and drug-related charges.
Credit: Polk County Sheriff's Office

DUNDEE, Fla. — A 27-year-old is facing a second-degree murder charge and weapons and drug charges after deputies said he shot and killed a man at a hotel in Polk County.

The sheriff's office said on Sunday, deputies responded to calls about a shooting at the Monticello Motel in Dundee. When first responders got there, they found a man lying in the parking lot near a parked, running car with several gunshot wounds "that appeared to be birdshot," the sheriff's office said in a release.

The man was taken to Heart of Florida Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

At the motel, deputies say they talked to Mark Callahan Jr., who said he lived alone at the motel. Callahan also reportedly told deputies he knew the man lived with his girlfriend a couple of rooms down from his.

According to detectives, Callahan said on Sunday the man entered Callahan's room, and the two men started to fight. Callahan told deputies that while they were fighting, the man armed himself with a pair of scissors and cut Callahan several times.

Deputies noted in an affidavit that Callahan had a small cut below his right eye, an injury on his left ear and minor scratches on his side.

Callahan told deputies the man left the motel in a car but said he would be back. Callahan originally told deputies he "knew nothing about the victim being shot," according to the sheriff's office.

Later, Callahan did admit to shooting the man after the fight in his room, the sheriff's office said. Once the man left Callahan's room, Callahan said the man left the area and then Callahan armed himself with a shotgun he had in his room, deputies said.

According to detectives, about 5-10 minutes later, the man pulled in the parking lot and yelled at Callahan to give him his phone. According to law enforcement, Callahan said the man was walking around near the driver's side of the car and it looked like he was reaching inside the car.

"The suspect said the victim reached into his pocket and he thought the victim might be retrieving a gun," deputies wrote in an arrest affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Callahan said he fired the shotgun at the man and then threw the shotgun over a privacy fence.

During the investigation, deputies say they searched Callahan's room and found a glass bowl pipe containing white residue that tested positive for methamphetamine. The shotgun used by Callahan was found later, and deputies said the weapon had been sawed off, making it about 12 inches long. 

The sheriff's office said Callahan's criminal history includes 15 arrests in Georgia and 14 arrests in Florida.

“It appears that this suspect, who has a criminal history, armed himself with an illegally-altered shotgun and waited for the victim to return. He then shot the man in cold blood and tried to lie about it when our deputies arrived. This dangerous felon belongs behind bars," Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Callahan was charged with second-degree murder, possession of a short-barreled shotgun, possession of meth, tampering with physical evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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