Accused Strawberry Crest teacher died by suicide, autopsy shows

HCSO photo

Authorities have confirmed that a Hillsborough County teacher died by suicide last Thursday, just one day after his arrest for allegedly soliciting nude photos from an undercover detective posing as a minor.

Strawberry Crest High School history teacher and former wrestling coach Anthony Michael Peace, 37, was arrested Wednesday at the school following an undercover investigation targeting suspects seeking to have sex with minors.

According to deputies, Peace initiated a conversation with an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old boy on social media back in March. Investigators said Peace solicited nude photos from the decoy teenager and sent explicit videos of himself.

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Detectives charged Peace with five counts of transmission of harmful material to a minor, one count of unlawful use of a two-way communications device, and one count of use of computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts.

Following his arrest on Wednesday, the school district had said Peace would not be returning to his teaching position and that they planned to "move swiftly for termination" after learning of the allegations against him.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said it was working to determine if other minors or students had been victimized by Peace.

Peace bonded out of the Hillsborough County Jail around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. Later that morning, officers responded to a wooded area along Mendonsa Drive near Peace's Plant City home where they found a man dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Monday, the medical examiner's office confirmed that Peace had died by suicide.

Additional grief counselors were made available to students and staff members at the school.