PINELLAS PARK — As Dallas Carter prepared to die, he wrote an anguished note telling of a life that had finally unraveled and pleading that his sons be sent to live with their mother.
"By the time you get this letter, I will be gone or dead," Carter wrote.
The 21/4-page note lacks punctuation and is full of misspellings and poor grammar, but it effectively reveals a man who could no longer cope. His life had been plagued by mental and physical illness, estrangement from his family, loneliness, depression and, finally, desperation.
"Sometime people do dump thing. I'm not really a bad person,'' he wrote. "Just life gets away from me sometime."
Carter, 44, died Saturday night when Pinellas Park police shot him as he reportedly pointed weapons at them. Before doing that, Carter had called the police to say he was distraught and had guns. He told officers that his sons, Christopher, 13, and Shawn, 8, were asleep in the next room.
Carter also called his brother, Cameron, to say he'd used two boxes of shells but had enough left for police when they came.
When police arrived at Shadow Run Apartments at 12001 Belcher Road, they heard Carter shoot about 30 rounds from a handgun and rifle. Soon after, the two boys ran out of the apartment. Then Carter came into the breezeway and, moments later, his difficult life was over.
When officers entered the apartment, they found the note, a copy of which the St. Petersburg Times obtained Wednesday. The note describes Carter's growing depression and desperation. It backs up claims by his father, also named Dallas, that the younger Carter's mental health issues were long-standing, as well as neighbors' belief that a job loss and lack of money had driven him over the edge. The final blow, neighbors said, was an eviction notice Carter received for failing to pay his water bill.
"For me to have done some kind of criminal active, things had to get realy bad for me," Carter wrote. "I have had both of my hips replace. I did try to go back to work but I got hurt every time on the job. So I thought maybe i can go back to school but the VR said no to me about school."
It was unclear what Carter meant by VR.
"Oh, yes, my father and brother do not care about me or my sons so let them go to their mother. Hopefully she can keep them. Their good boys," he wrote.
Carter got his wish. His ex-wife, Brenda Fecteau, was granted custody in a quick hearing Tuesday morning. She appeared by telephone.
Fecteau traveled to Florida on Tuesday from her home in Maine. She was reunited with Christopher and Shawn on Wednesday.
"I have every try to get state help with food + bills," Carter wrote. "The bills that I pay are like 15 bills each month. I can't do it no more. I need help. So I'm sorry if I do something wrong. All I'm trying to do is paid some bills."
Carter said he needed about $6,000 to pay his bills and repeated that he had tried to get a job but was unable to do so because of his hips and bad back.
"No one is will to get me a job," Carter wrote.
Carter's final words concerned his sons and his brother.
"Hopefully, my sons are not with me when i do something dump," he wrote. "I had even ask my brother if he could help to a loan with my bank. He said NO!! So now, I have to do something dump."