Brian Hamacher

Opa-locka Commissioner Terence Pinder Dies in Apparent Suicide Crash: Report

A City of Opa-locka commissioner who was expected to face corruption charges was killed early Tuesday after crashing his car into a tree in an apparent suicide at Opa-locka Executive Airport, according to a report.

Commissioner Terence Pinder was scheduled to turn himself in to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported

The State Attorney's Office said Pinder was set to face bribery and unlawful compensation charges. The charges were related to bribes Pinder allegedly solicited to help a local businessman, who was acting as an informant, to help get approval from the city to operate a solid waste transfer station, officials said.

"No such charges or offenses are worth taking one's life," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "This is a tragedy for Terrence Pinder’s family and friends, a tragedy for the City Of Opa-locka and a tragedy for the people of Opa-locka that circumstances surrounding the city’s operation have gone this far."

Miami-Dade Police confirmed there was a fatal crash at the airport, saying the car drove about 100 yards onto airport property before hitting the tree. Sources told the Herald Pinder crashed his car into the tree while driving more than 100 mph.

Police said a woman walking her dog came across the crash scene around 8 a.m. Tuesday. City officials confirmed the death of Pinder in a statement.

"It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we inform you of the passing of Commissioner Terence K. Pinder," the statement read. "He was known and loved by the young, the elderly and the community at large. He will be missed in 'The Great City of Opa-locka.'"

Mayor Myra Taylor also released a statement on Pinder's death.

"Our thoughts and hearts go out to the loss of our great colleague, friend and brother, Commissioner Terence K. Pinder. The entire Opa-locka community joins in sending our condolences to the Pinder family," her statement read.

The vehicle was towed from the airport and was taken to the medical examiner.

Opa-locka has been facing financial troubles for months. The Herald reported Monday that the city's top financial officer said the city will run out of money after next week's payroll.

Meanwhile, the FBI has begun a corruption investigation into the city's leaders, the Herald reported. Pinder's expected surrender was for state charges and wasn't related to the federal investigation.

A special commission meeting had been scheduled for Tuesday night, where commissioners were expected to hear a resolution to request Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a financial oversight committee. The meeting was later canceled.

Friends spent Tuesday mourning the death of Pinder, saying he was not married and had no children.

"Men like that make me pull my pants up, put a belt on and tuck my shirt in my pants," Artis Grant said. "I mean, he had nothing but a positive influence on me since I have known him."

"He was one of the first telling us that we were going to run out of money, he was one of the first telling us that the city finances was in trouble," Alvin Burke said.

Contact Us