Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater driver says he wanted to kill terrorist

Terry Butler, 53, a Clearwater city employee, was injured but is listed in good condition.

Courtesy of Bay News 9

Terry Butler, 53, a Clearwater city employee, was injured but is listed in good condition.

CLEARWATER — Authorities say a man accused of injuring a city worker in a hit-and-run crash Thursday told investigators he thought the worker was a terrorist, possibly of Middle Eastern descent, and wanted to kill him.

Gerald Christopher Prebe, 35, of 1512 Tilley Ave. was originally charged with aggravated battery with a motor vehicle. Police raised that to attempted murder after interviewing Prebe.

Police are still investigating to determine if they will charge him with a hate crime, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts.

Prebe is accused of running into 53-year-old Terry Butler, a public services technician with the city's traffic engineering department, about 1:45 p.m. at the intersection of Magnolia and Brookside drives, which is east of S Keene Road and south of Druid Road.

Butler is African-American; Prebe is white.

Police have not released specifics about what Prebe said when interviewed, but according to initial reports broadcast over the police scanner, someone in Prebe's vehicle yelled a racial slur at Butler before he was hit.

Butler had just finished painting stripes on a nearby road and was on his break in the area when he was hit. City spokeswoman Joelle Castelli said Butler "oftentimes enjoyed watching water while on break." There is a small lake nearby.

Butler was outside his city GMC pickup truck, which was stopped in the road, and was walking back to it when Prebe accelerated toward him in a blue 2001 Nissan pickup, Watts said.

Prebe sideswiped Butler's truck and hit Butler, throwing him about 20 feet from the point of impact, Watts said.

There is no indication that Butler and Prebe knew each other, though they do live in the same neighborhood, Watts said.

Butler, who has been with the city since 1986, was taken by ambulance to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. On Friday morning he was listed in good condition with injuries that do not appear to be life-threatening, police said.

According to Prebe's arrest report, Butler suffered a fractured neck and had internal bleeding that required emergency surgery.

On Friday, Prebe was being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Clearwater driver says he wanted to kill terrorist 04/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 8:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: Arrests show construction licensing board's faults


    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies launched a predawn operation and arrested unlicensed contractors. It was a needed crackdown on a problem that appears rampant in Pinellas because the agency charged with overseeing local contractors has no policing …

    Ripping off consumers got a little harder in Pinellas County this week after teams of deputies executed a predawn operation, arresting unlicensed contractors.
  2. Dade City teen arrested after authorities say he pulled fake gun on student


    DADE CITY — A 14-year-old boy faces felony charges after he pulled a fake gun on a Pasco Middle School student near the school Wednesday afternoon, according to authorities.

  3. Live blog: Crowd shouts at Richard Spencer as he speaks in Gainesville


    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    Florida Highway Patrol cruisers jammed the parking lot Wednesday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville, part of a big show of force by law enforcement ahead of Thursday's appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer. [KATHRYN VARN | Times]
  4. Koetter: Jameis Winston will test shoulder in practice Friday


    Will he? Won't he? It appears the Bucs' uncertainty over whether quarterback Jameis Winston can play through a shoulder injury Sunday at Buffalo will carry up until the final hours before kickoff.

    Jameis Winston didn't throw at practice Wednesday.
  5. Dunedin man arrested for having destruction devices, deputies say

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Deputies will be speaking later today to discuss a Dunedin man who was charged with possessing destruction devices in his home.