THONOTOSASSA — At first, he was sitting on a neighbor's swing. Seconds later, the mobile home park resident was gouging the claw side of a hammer into a man's head, witnesses said.
The victim, Jonathan F. Acree, 48, of Tampa, was taken to Brandon Regional Hospital Saturday, where he was pronounced dead. It took Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies three hours to coax the suspect, 27-year-old Jarrett Kyle Brooks, out of his mobile home on Black Dairy Road. He was arrested Saturday night and charged with second-degree murder with a weapon.
A neighbor called 911 at 1:50 p.m. about a fight between two men, said Col. Donna Lusczynski of the Sheriff's Office. When deputies arrived, they found Acree lying on the ground in front of Lot 9 of the Pruitt Black Dairy Road Mobile Home Park, 6427 Black Dairy Road. Deputies said Acree was at Lot 9 talking to a friend when Brooks approached him from behind and began striking him in the head and neck with the hammer.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue paramedics worked to resuscitate Acree as they rushed him to the hospital. Witnesses told deputies Brooks went back into his own trailer at Lot 5, Lusczynski said.
Patrol deputies evacuated the mobile home park, where more than 100 residents were inside, and set up a perimeter as they awaited SWAT negotiators and removal team. At 4:30 p.m., authorities fired four canisters of pepper spray into the mobile home, and Brooks came out on his own, Lusczynski said.
He was taken into custody and transported to the Hills-borough County Jail. State records show Brooks has no prior arrests for violent crimes. Soon after, SWAT members left to the cheers of dozens of neighbors standing outside the yellow police tape.
For Tobi Tinsley, 30, what was supposed to be a fun day out with her children turned into a tragedy she can't explain. Acree had come to the mobile home park to pick up Tinsley and her three children and take them to Downtown Disney.
"He knocked on my door and so I went to brush my teeth," Tinsley said. ''I was walking out of the bedroom when I heard my mother yell, 'He's got a hammer,' and as I ran outside he was already getting hit."
Tinsley said her children and mother said that just before the suspect raised the hammer, he yelled a racial epithet at the victim, who is black.
This was the second altercation between the men, said longtime friend Scott Robbins, 35.
"Four or five months ago, the neighbor attacked my friend out of nowhere and my friend defended himself," he said.
That scuffle didn't warrant murder, Robbins said.
Acree's sister-in-law, Betty Jean Acree, 48, of Riverview, said he has a wife and two children younger than 5 who live in the Philippines. "He was a bubbly, fun-loving sweet guy," she recalled.
Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3373.