Off-Duty St. Pete Beach, FL, District Chief Charged in Road Rage Assault

May 25, 2024
District Chief Thomas McClave, accused of shoving a bicyclist after nearly striking him, was placed on leave without pay.

Tony Marrero

Tampa Bay Times


A St. Pete Beach Fire Department district chief was arrested Thursday after he assaulted and battered a cyclist during a road rage incident on Gulf Boulevard in Redington Shores, deputies said.

Pinellas deputies arrested Thomas McClave about 5 p.m. on charges of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle and simple battery after the encounter, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

McClave, 55, of Seminole was off duty and driving his personal vehicle, a 2017 Chevrolet pickup, south on Gulf Boulevard near 175th Avenue when he came up behind a cyclist riding in the shared travel lane. McClave pulled up beside the cyclist, 58-year-old Gregory Hicks, and yelled for him to get out of the roadway, deputies said.

The two men yelled back and forth at each other for a short time, and then Hicks rode his bike onto the raised median of Gulf Boulevard. Deputies said McClave followed Hicks with his pickup, intentionally driving onto the median and almost striking Hicks, who had to swerve out of the way.

McClave then stopped, got out of his truck and shoved Hicks in the chest twice and knocked a cellphone out of his hand as he tried to record the encounter, deputies said.

McClave was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and was listed Friday as being held without bond, records show. It was unclear if he had made his first appearance in front of a judge.

McClave has been employed by the St. Pete Beach Fire Department as district fire chief since November, according to the sheriff’s office.

Reached Friday, St. Pete Beach fire Chief Jim Kilpatrick said McClave has been suspended without pay pending an investigation into the incident. Kilpatrick said the department had no further comment.

The city also issued a news release about McClave’s arrest.

“It should be noted that the accused actions of Chief McClave do not represent the men and women of the St. Pete Beach Fire Department who provide exceptional fire and EMS services to the residents and visitors of Pinellas County,” the release said.

McClave began his fire service career as a volunteer firefighter for Indian Rocks Beach Fire Department until becoming a firefighter with Seminole Fire Rescue, according to a Facebook post from St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue announcing his hiring in November. He retired from Seminole Fire Rescue as a lieutenant/acting district fire chief in 2018 before joining the Madeira Beach Fire Department, where he held the rank of lieutenant/department training officer.

In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and has all of the privileges, rights and responsibilities on public roads, except for expressways, that a motor vehicle operator does, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

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