Man in Pasco County road rage shooting was angry, suicidal

“I think we were just the last straw,” said Andrew Sestok, 18, of Sunday’s road rage shooting.

“I think we were just the last straw,” said Andrew Sestok, 18, of Sunday’s road rage shooting.

ODESSA — After an angry blowup with his parents and his girlfriend, Michael David Hanley left home Sunday afternoon with a semiautomatic handgun, a .45-caliber assault rifle, a bulletproof vest and repeated threats to kill himself.

"He was armed and prepared to do battle," said Pasco Sheriff Bob White. "With whom, we don't know."

The first people in his path: four teens in a Jeep waiting to pull out of Lake Parker Estates.

Hanley, 34, yelled at them, then opened fire as the Jeep peeled onto Gunn Highway.

Two bullets pierced the legs of 18-year-old Stewart Jones, one of the backseat passengers. Hanley drove off in the opposite direction, took the next side street, then used his rifle to take his life.

As harrowing as the experience was, the teens on Monday said it could have been worse. Instead of shooting at the teens, Hanley could have gone to a mall or another public place and opened fire, said Chris Ferlita, 17, the other boy in the back seat.

"I think we were just the last straw," said Andrew Sestok, 18, who drove the yellow Jeep. "I don't want to think about what else he could have done."

• • •

Hanley's life was a troubled one. He was bipolar and "prone to episodes of extreme anger," White said Monday.

Anastasia Hummel, Hanley's girlfriend and the mother of his child, told deputies that Hanley had an anger problem and could become very irate. He had trouble keeping a job because he was always fighting with people, Hummel told deputies.

Hanley was arrested once, records show, for a DUI in Monroe County in 2000.

He was a small-engine mechanic, but hadn't been to work in about two weeks, White said. He lived with his parents and Hummel in a home in Lake Parker Estates.

On Monday afternoon, no one answered the door at 1507 Lake Parker Drive, where Hanley lived. A Pasco deputy arrived and asked reporters to leave.

• • •

The four teens — Stewart Jones, Andrew Sestok, and brothers Geoffrey and Christopher Ferlita — were about to embark on their summer afternoon routine. They were at the Ferlita home in Odessa, and decided to cruise to a nearby 7-Eleven, grab some snacks and then stroll the aisles at Wal-Mart.

They piled into Sestok's yellow Jeep Wrangler about 3:45 p.m. Sunday and headed to the front of the Lake Parker Estates subdivision, stopping at Parker Pointe Boulevard and Gunn Highway.

Sestok wanted to change the Lil Wayne song playing on his iPod. Just then, he noticed a green truck behind him, so he nudged up to let the driver by.

The driver was Hanley.

He drove up beside Sestok, rolled down his window and began yelling. As Sestok rolled down his own window, he noticed Hanley was pointing a silver and black handgun at him and the others in the car.

"It looked like he meant business," Sestok said. "You could almost see he was legit in his eyes."

Sestok sped off north on Gunn Highway, but not before the driver fired six rounds. At least four hit the Jeep.

"I really didn't look back," said Sestok, a freshman at the University of South Florida. "I was hoping and praying he wasn't following."

Then Jones began screaming that he'd been hit. One round hit his left calf. The other went through both thighs.

A bullet also grazed the left thigh of Chris Ferlita, a senior at Mitchell High School.

Sestok pulled into the 7-Eleven, and the teens frantically called 911 and their parents. Jones, a student at St. Petersburg College, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where he remained Monday with nonlife-threatening injuries.

• • •

A few hours after the shooting, deputies found Hanley's Dodge truck at the end of Byrd Drive off Gunn Highway.

The truck was still running. Its tinted windows were rolled up. Deputies found Hanley inside, slumped over his rifle, dead of a self-inflicted wound.

White, the Pasco sheriff, said the incident is a reminder for drivers to stay away from anyone exhibiting signs of road rage.

"The boys were at the wrong place at the wrong time," White said.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.

Man in Pasco County road rage shooting was angry, suicidal 08/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 8:20am]

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