INDIAN SHORES — For several days, Kentin Deon Brooks hadn't been himself.
The 26-year-old father of three was depressed, his wife, Alana Patrice Drayton, said. He wasn't sleeping. He seemed upset about something, but didn't say what.
He'd been acting so strangely that Drayton tried to have him evaluated on Tuesday at St. Anthony's Hospital. He refused treatment, so his wife asked him to stay away so the children wouldn't see him that way.
For two days, Brooks stayed with a cousin during the day and came back to his home at 420 79th Ter. N, Apt. 309 in St. Petersburg after the kids were asleep.
Drayton planned to try again Wednesday to get her husband some help. She never got the chance.
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Around 11:15 p.m., police and deputies saw a black Mustang GT with tinted windows driving recklessly along Gulf Boulevard. Neighbors said they saw the car driving up and down the road for several hours at high speed — perhaps as fast as 100 mph.
Deputies tried to pull over the car, but the driver, later identified as Brooks, kept going. Deputies almost chased him but stopped as the Mustang drove on. At that point, Brooks had committed only traffic violations, and officers decided it was better to let him leave than risk the safety of bystanders or other drivers.
But Brooks soon returned and started spinning his tires and racing past police cruisers.
Deputies watched Brooks as he headed north on Gulf Boulevard and rammed into an Indian Shores police car with an officer inside, said Pinellas County sheriff's Sgt. Tom Nestor.
"That was his way of saying, 'Now you've got to come get me,' " Nestor said. "He was looking for some type of confrontation with us."
Deputies then used their cruisers to nudge Brooks' car into a spin. He struck a power pole at 19106 Gulf Blvd., in front of Indian Shores Town Square.
As the officers got out of their cars, Brooks opened fire from inside his car, hitting the cruisers' windshields.
"He was trying to kill us," Nestor said. "There's no doubt about that."
Three Pinellas deputies and one Indian Shores police officer returned fire, killing the man.
Donna Mewhirter lives nearby and watched the shootout with binoculars from her home. "I had a ringside seat," she said. "I'll never forget this sound — pop, pop, pop, pop,"
Nestor said it's possible Brooks wanted to die, an example of what authorities called "suicide by cop.''
"They were trying purposely not to engage this guy, but you have no alternative than to defend yourself," Nestor said.
The officers involved were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, standard procedure in shootings.
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Brooks has been arrested eight times in Florida, mostly on charges for drug possession, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
He was released in March 2008 after almost a year in prison for selling cocaine, carrying a concealed firearm and driving with a suspended license, records show. He hasn't been arrested since.
But earlier Wednesday, he did have another strange encounter with police.
Around 10 a.m., St. Petersburg police responded to Regions Bank at 8250 Ninth Way N for a call about a "suspicious person."
A man, identified by police as Brooks, had shown up first thing in the morning and repeatedly demanded $20,000 from his account, a police report states.
The tellers told him it wasn't possible. Brooks only had 27 cents in two accounts, the report says.
Brooks seemed "somewhat slow and maybe tired," officers noted in the report, but not under the influence of anything. Police verified his identification and let him leave.
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Brooks' wife said she's at a loss to explain what happened to her high school sweetheart. They met at Northeast High and married in 2006. They have three children: Kentin Jr. Brooks, 7; Kentez, 5; and Deon, 3.
Drayton said they planned to take the kids to Disney World for Christmas. Brooks had been turning his life around, she said. "He just made a few mistakes, like anybody. Nobody's perfect."
Brooks was laid off from a Largo marketing company about a month ago and was looking for a job. She said he planned to go to technical school in January to become certified to drive semitrailer trucks.
Brooks also was a music promoter and rapper on the side. He went by the stage name Stony and managed his own company, Still Smokin Entertainment. Drayton said he'd performed at a few local clubs.
On Wednesday, Brooks went to hang out with his cousin, and Drayton said she called him repeatedly to check on him.
"He said, 'Baby, I'm fine. I'm okay.' "
She figured he'd show up at home that night and she would call police to hospitalize him under the Baker Act.
Instead, police called her at about 7 a.m. Thursday and told her Brooks was dead.
"He was a good person," Drayton said. "Except the last couple of days, something just changed."