PALM HARBOR — A 30-year-old man was shot to death in front of his twin brother in a road rage incident early Tuesday after three drivers stopped their cars and confronted one another, authorities said.
Investigators questioned the accused gunman at length Tuesday but did not press criminal charges against him. He told deputies that he acted in self-defense.
Deputies say Seth Browning, a 23-year-old security guard, shot Brandon Patrick Baker about 2:15 a.m. on Seagull Drive, an access road leading to large apartment complexes on the west side of East Lake Road just north of Tampa Road.
Baker, who died at the scene of the shooting, lived with his twin brother and his girlfriend in one of those complexes, Sabal Palms at Boot Ranch.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office gave the following account:
Shortly after 2 a.m., three vehicles were headed south on East Lake Road — one driven by Brandon Baker, the second by Seth Browning, and the third by Brandon's twin, Christopher Baker.
Browning told deputies that he had become concerned about Brandon Baker's driving. In an attempt to get his tag number, Browning followed him onto the frontage road. The third car followed the other two.
The vehicles came to a stop, and Brandon Baker got out of his Chevy pickup and aggressively approached Browning's car, deputies said. Browning responded by using pepper spray on Baker and his brother, who was also approaching Browning's car.
Deputies say Brandon Baker reached into Browning's vehicle and punched him, and he in turn pulled out his gun and shot Brandon Baker.
Browning called 911 and stayed at the scene until sheriff's deputies arrived. He wasn't on duty at the time, but he is authorized to carry a gun through his employer, the Sheriff's Office said.
Christopher Baker was not injured. A passenger in his car — Amy Marcellus, Brandon Baker's girlfriend — also was not injured. She remained inside the car during the incident, deputies said.
The Sheriff's Office investigation is ongoing.
Little information about Baker was available Tuesday. He attended East Lake High School. He has no Florida arrest record. At one time he owned B & B Lawn Service & Trimming, according to Florida corporate records.
The shooting took place in front of the Egret's Landing apartment complex, on an access road that straddles two large retention ponds.
Justin Clarida, who lives nearby, said he heard screaming during the incident. "I heard someone yell, 'Oh, my God! Brandon! Somebody call 911!' " Clarida said.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4151.