ST. PETERSBURG — The first pop sounded like a blown tire.
It was 5:20 Saturday morning. Chris Gerdes, a delivery driver for the Tampa Bay Times, heard the noise as he neared the end of his route at the Sunshine Mobile Home Park.
The second pop sounded like a gunshot.
He turned a corner and, through the darkness, saw two men clothed in hooded sweatshirts standing at the end of a driveway. His windows down, Gerdes pulled up next to them. He heard two loud clicks.
"What's going on?" he yelled.
The men sprinted across the street and disappeared between two mobile homes. Gerdes stepped out of his car. At the top of the driveway, he saw a woman writhing in a chair, blood dripping down her neck. Nearby, a man sprawled across the concrete struggled to breathe.
"Are you all right?" Gerdes asked the woman.
"No," she mumbled. "I'm shot."
On Saturday night, sheriff's deputies announced they had arrested Francis James Bahr, 55, on two counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the shooting of Rosa A. Pereira, 42, and David H. Sharp, 46. Deputies were still looking for a second unidentified suspect.
Bahr, who lives just down the street from the Sunshine Mobile Home Park, wanted a relationship with Pereira, deputies said, but she was not interested.
Pereira moved into the park at 7403 46th Ave. N about two years ago.
She recently began dating Sharp. Neighbors didn't know him well but said he was friendly. He made Pereira happy.
Bahr was still hanging around.
"He was madly in love with her, and she wanted nothing to do with him," said neighbor Bob Johnston, 61.
When Gerdes discovered that Pereira and Sharp were shot, he searched her house until he saw a phone on a bedroom dresser.
The dispatcher told him to ask her where she'd been shot. She pointed to her head.
"I'm dying," she said. "I'm dying."
"Lord," he prayed, "stay with her."
Paramedics arrived and took Pereira and Sharp to hospitals for life-threatening injuries. They were in critical condition Saturday night, sheriff's officials said.
Gerdes believes a divine hand kept everyone alive. Those two loud clicks, he thinks, were trigger pulls.
"It wasn't her time to go," he said. "And it wasn't mine either I guess."
Tampa Bay Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at [email protected]