Who was Anthony Peace? Florida ex-teacher arrested for soliciting nudes from cop posing as teen shoots himself
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA: A former Strawberry Crest High School teacher who was caught soliciting nude photos from minors in a child predator sting killed himself last week, a day after he was arrested, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Anthony Michael Peace, 37, shot himself with a shotgun on Thursday, May 20, near his home in Plant City, according to Plant City police, Tampa Bay Times reported. A doorbell monitor app showed him walking outside his home carrying a shotgun shortly before a 911 call was placed regarding his death. He was last seen alive by his mother. When Plant City police and fire rescue crew arrived at the scene, he was found dead.
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Who was Anthony Peace?
Before his arrest, Peace worked as a history teacher at the Strawberry Crest High School. He began his career in the school district at Middleton High School, where he worked as an agribusiness teacher from 2006 to 2010. He transferred to Strawberry Crest as a history teacher and as the school’s wrestling coach.
However, in 2012, Peace lost his wrestling coach job when, according to his personnel file, seen by the Tampa Bay Times, the school district learned he was the subject of a Sheriff’s Office investigation. According to accusations filed against Peace, with the Sheriff’s Child Protective Investigative Department he “interacted inappropriately” with an unknown individual who was not a student in Hillsborough County schools. At the time, the allegations were unsubstantiated and investigators closed the case without finding any evidence to pursue criminal charges, the Sheriff’s Office said.
However, an internal investigation by the school district’s own Professional Standards into Peace raised enough concern that he lost his wrestling job and was banned from holding another coaching position at a Hillsborough County school. At the time, Peace told investigators he “regularly would bring students to his home to spend the night, and that it was common practice among coaches in the district,” Linda Kipley, the district’s general manager of professional standards, wrote in a memo to school officials May 23, 2012. He was apparently also housing a student from Strawberry Crest High School for several days during a week, even though the student’s parents lived in Tampa.
Kipley wrote in a letter to Peace on July 9, 2012, that the behavior violated policies for both the school district and the Florida High School Athletic Association. “Though there was no finding of you inappropriately interacting with your students/athletes, you are directed to never take students home with you or be alone with them for any reason at any time in or out of the school setting,” the letter said. “In addition, you are to communicate with students only through the means provided by the school district for teachers.”
Peace lost his job at the Hillsborough Public Schools District following his arrest on May 19. In a written statement to the Tampa Bay Times, the Hillsborough County School District said it was firing Peace.
Why was Peace arrested?
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said that Peace was arrested on May 19 on the high school’s campus in Dover after soliciting nude photographs online from an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old boy. He also sent the detective explicit videos of himself. The detective in question was part of an undercover investigation targeting individuals seeking to have sex with minors, the Sheriff’s Office said. On the day that he took his own life, Peace was released from Orient Road Jail on $14,000 bail, records show.
Before his death, he faced several felony charges, including the transmission of harmful material to minors, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, and use of computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.