Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Soft-spoken' man accused in I-4 fatal shooting wants bail

TAMPA — When Jerome Hayes lived in Brandon in the 1990s, a neighbor said, he dressed up like an elf every year and helped neighbors put up Christmas decorations. He was vice president of the homeowners association.

"I can't say anything negative about him," said former neighbor Debbie Smith, whose son played with Hayes' children. She never knew him to be violent.

"I just can't imagine what transpired since he left here," she said.

None of this explains how Hayes, 48, now of St. Cloud near Orlando, ended up in a red uniform and shackles Tuesday morning, standing in a Hillsborough County jail, listening in as a judge in a Tampa courtroom ordered him held without bail on a charge of first-degree murder.

Hayes is accused of killing Fred Turner Jr., 47, the Orlando man shot Saturday afternoon on Interstate 4. Hayes surrendered Monday and, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, thought Turner was someone else as he followed him from a strip club parking lot, chased him onto I-4, then shot him three times.

Hayes meant to follow a man he had fought with at that strip club, the agency said. But when Turner walked out of the adult video store next door, Hayes and another man followed. The man with Hayes has been questioned but not charged. His name has not been released.

Hayes' attorney, Nick Matassini, told a judge Tuesday that he plans to argue for Hayes' pre-trial release. He cited his lack of a major criminal record and his cooperation.

"He's a very soft-spoken, nice guy," he said. "He does not seem like the kind of guy you'd expect to commit this kind of crime."

Those who could perhaps explain how "neighborhood elf" became "accused I-4 shooter" have turned away from the glare of media attention. Hayes' sister in Largo posted a "no trespassing" sign in her yard and told a reporter Tuesday he was trespassing. Management at the Tampa Gold Club, the strip club at 6222 Adamo Drive where Hayes had been, declined to comment.

A search warrant affidavit filed Tuesday details the Sheriff's Office case. A receipt from Tres Equis, the adult video store next to the Gold Club, was found on Turner. The receipt was time-stamped 2:44 p.m. Saturday.

Minutes before, Hayes and another man had been kicked out of the Gold Club for fighting with another patron, officials said. Surveillance footage shows one of them opening the trunk to a gray Ford Taurus and retrieving an "unknown object," the warrant states, then both men get in the car. When Turner left the video store and drove away in his green Mustang, the Taurus followed.

Moments later, Turner called 911 to report he was being followed by a man with a gun. The Sheriff's Office has declined to release the 911 recording, but the warrant includes a brief description.

"If he shoots his gun, I'm gone," Turner said to the dispatcher as he drove east on I-4, the warrant states, the Taurus just behind.

Moments later, Turner said, the Taurus pulled alongside him. They were approaching the I-75 overpass, under which Turner's Mustang would come to rest.

"Unknown noises are then heard (possibly gunfire or bullets striking the victim's vehicle)," according to the warrant. "After the unknown noises, the victim fell silent and no longer responded to a dispatcher."

Times staff writers Charles Scudder, Mike Brassfield and news researcher John Martin contributed.

'Soft-spoken' man accused in I-4 fatal shooting wants bail 07/02/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 11:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.