Sunday, December 17, 2017
Public safety

911 call captures final words of man shot on I-4

TAMPA — As he drove his Ford Mustang east on Interstate 4 on a Saturday afternoon last summer, with an enraged stranger waving a gun through the open window of a car behind him, Fred Turner Jr. was bewildered and afraid.

He was about to die that way.

"I have no idea who this guy is, and I know I didn't do anything to upset him like cut in front of him," Turner told a 911 dispatcher.

"If he shoots his gun, I'm — I'm gone," Turner said. "Now he's going to pull up beside me on the right side. …"

The chilling recording of the 47-year-old Turner's last conversation on a call from his cellphone was among the evidence released Monday by the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office in the murder case against Jerome Hayes, 49. Hayes, of St. Cloud south of Orlando, is accused of fatally shooting Turner on June 29, 2013.

Turner's apparent bafflement in the moments before his death stems from the crime's unusual circumstances: Authorities say he was killed in a case of mistaken identity.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reports and other documents released Monday offer the following account:

Hayes and a friend from eastern Hillsborough County, Ronnie Isgett, had planned to fish that Saturday. After bad weather greeted them at John's Pass, they drank a pitcher of beer at a WingHouse restaurant and decided to visit a couple of strip clubs. While the pair was at the Gold Club on E Adamo Drive, Isgett said he and Hayes got into a fight with another man and were kicked out.

According to investigators, Hayes, who was driving, parked outside the club to wait for the man with whom they had fought. But he mistakenly began following Turner, an Orlando resident who came from a nearby store.

Once on the interstate, Hayes drove alongside Turner in his gray Ford Taurus and fired several shots, investigators said.

A friend of Isgett's who met with the men later that day said Hayes told him he had shot someone, saying he "smoked his a--."

Isgett told investigators he watched in horror as Hayes stuck a handgun out the window and that he heard gunfire. Afterward, he said Hayes turned to him and said, "Man, you should see the look on your face."

Hayes remains jailed without bail as he awaits trial, scheduled for September. His attorney, Nicholas Matassini Jr. of Tampa, said his client denies shooting Turner and that Isgett is not a reliable witness.

"There have been multiple inconsistencies in the various statements Ronnie has provided," Matassini said Monday. He rejected claims of Isgett's friend that Hayes talked about the shooting.

According to the documents released Monday, Hayes obtained a state license to carry a concealed weapon in 2006, but it was revoked in 2008 because of a grand theft charge in Polk County. Isgett said Hayes was storing a gun in his car's glove compartment on the day of the shooting.

While Hayes invoked his right to an attorney rather than speak formally with detectives last summer, case records portray one investigator's impression of his mood after Turner's death.

When Hillsborough Sheriff's Office deputies arrived to confiscate Hayes' guns before his arrest, Detective Jose Lugo greeted Hayes with a statement intended to provoke a reaction.

"You killed the wrong person," he told Hayes, according to the account of fellow Deputy Christopher Baumann. Hayes asked for a lawyer but approached Baumann as the deputies left his house.

"Sir, can I ask you a quick question?" He asked, according to Baumann's report. "Did that guy really die?"

Staff writer Dan Sullivan contributed to this report. Peter Jamison can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3337. Follow him on Twitter @petejamison.

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