Friends, authorities still looking for missing student

By Eila Knaf, CORRESPONDENT
On March 7, 2018

Gabriel Cordova, a Tampa student and Student Government employee, went missing on Feb. 23. 
SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/MIKE STUBEN

On Feb. 22, Gabriel Cordova’s brother came home to a mysterious scene.  Cordova’s backpack, wallet and cellphone were there, but he was not. As of today, it’s been 13 days since Cordova has been seen.  

On Feb. 23, St. Petersburg police issued a missing persons alert for 21-year-old Gabriel Cordova, a male student at USF Tampa.  

Cordova has been missing since 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 22, and was last seen in the 9100 block of MLK Street North in St. Petersburg. The student is said to have mental health issues and in need of medication.

The St. Petersburg Police Department is conducting an investigation. USF St. Petersburg police said it did not have information on the case.  An officer did confirm that Cordova is “a Tampa campus student, but he was reported missing from St. Petersburg.”

Cordova is a mechanical engineering major. Outside of the classroom, for the past year, he has worked within the Student Business Services office, situated within the Student Government Suite in the Marshall Student Center.  

His supervisor, Mike Stuben, commends him for not only his respectfulness and work ethic, but also his genuine personality.

“He worked here in our office for most of a year, mostly last year, and we met him here,” Stuben said. “I was actually his direct supervisor so I worked with him that way, and we became friends as well as co-workers. I’m friends with him on Facebook and social media. He’s an absolutely wonderful person. We probably didn’t do a lot of social things away from the office, but certainly had a great relationship while we were here.”

As a Student Business Services employee, Cordova worked to help with the purchasing of materials and travel resources for student organizations. His position entailed assisting organizations in supplying food and some form of entertainment at numerous events.

“This is going to sound like a crazy number, but there’s probably thousands, if not tens of thousands of students, who were impacted by his work here in some small way who never knew who he was because he was helping create the purchasing of so many events taken place on campus,” Stuben said. “It was one of those behind-the-scene jobs that had an important part in the process.”

For the purpose of spreading awareness of Cordova’s disappearance, Stuben said it’s necessary to distribute his photo through as many means as possible. Stuben said he believes the more frequently Cordova’s image is circulated, either around campus or on various social media platforms, people will be able to recognize him if he is seen and then be able to alert authorities of his appearance.

“Even if you don’t know him take a look at the photos, see what he looks like and keep your eyes open,” Stuben said. “You don’t have to go out and do a search party or anything like that, but as your daily life takes you places, look for him. If you see him, alert authorities so that they can come in and help him.”

“On the flipside, take those social media posts and share them because my network may only be a couple hundred people, but then with them there’s other people that have a couple hundred people, and it just keeps ballooning out and spreading out and so that’s real important. It just takes a second to hit the share button, but it can do a whole world of help because you never know who is going to be the person who sees him and provides the link to get it all resolved.”

Meanwhile, on campus, there have been a number of student leaders and SG members who have taken to social media to share the police reports and news reports in regards to Cordova’s case. Cordova’s family has been interviewed by local news stations with the intent of spreading awareness of their missing son.

In light of the circumstances, Stuben said he recently reached out to Cordova’s brother on Facebook.  

“I reached out to his brother on Facebook a couple nights ago, and they (his family) were very thankful and appreciative of everyone spreading the word. As of now unfortunately just waiting, waiting for that good news to come,” Stuben said.

Anyone with information concerning Cordova’s case should contact the police at (813) 893-7780.

“Whether they knew him directly or just knew of him, people care about him or are worried for him and want to get him back,” Stuben said. “I’m sure he’s out there, I’m confident he’s OK, but we just got to find him and get him back to his family and figure out what he needs.”

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