PINELLAS PARK — Shortly before Pinellas Park police shot Dallas Carter to death, he called his older brother and made the last threat of his life.
"I've just used two boxes of shells,'' Dallas Carter told his brother, Cameron. "I got some left for the police when they come.'"
Cameron Carter called their father, also named Dallas. Both Carters hesitated about calling the police because they were afraid that, if the cops failed to do anything, Dallas would come looking for them.
"I was afraid of him," the father said Tuesday evening.
Finally, the two decided they should go to Shadow Run Apartments, 12001 Belcher Road, where the youngest Carter lived.
"He was dead when we got there," said Carter's father. Mr. Carter said he had no regrets about not going to his son's sooner. "He would have shot us before he shot at the police just to hurt us. He held a grudge against us."
Carter said his son had suffered with mental problems since he was deprived of oxygen at birth. When growing up, he would frequently run away. Finally, Dallas ended up in a mental hospital in Illinois. After he was released, he married and had two children. When he and his wife divorced in Maine, the two shared custody of the boys, Christopher and Shawn.
The two boys, now 8 and 13, were asleep in the apartment Saturday night when their father's rampage began. After he fired 30 rounds, the two boys ran out of the apartment to police. Then Dallas stepped into the breezeway with a handgun and a rifle, which he pointed at police. They fired 10 rounds, killing him.
Shawn and Christopher were taken into custody by the Pinellas County sheriff's Child Protection Investigation Division after the shooting because their local relatives were unable or unwilling to take them. The sheriff has a contract with the Florida Department of Children and Families to provide children's services in Pinellas.
A judge granted their mother, Brenda Fecteau, custody Tuesday morning. County officials recommended she get custody after she cleared a criminal background check and the boys said they wanted to live with their mother. Fecteau, who attended the hearing by telephone, said she wanted her sons and would arrive Tuesday night from Maine, where she lives.
With the exception of a DCF report indicating the family had been provided "services," Carter and his sons lived basically unnoticed by authorities. But neighbors said Carter had been depressed recently over money issues. He had been told he would be evicted because he had failed to pay the water bill and there was little food in the apartment for the boys.
Dallas' father said he knew of his son's financial problems and had Cameron Carter deliver a box of food for his son and grandsons. But he blamed Saturday's incident on Dallas' mental condition, not his financial problems.
"He always had a mental problem," Mr. Carter said. "Most of the time, it was like talking to anybody else."
But then, something would set Dallas off. He would talk in a voice that was "grounding, growling ... like there's two or three different people in there. It was weird," the father said.
And Dallas would make threats about hurting or killing people. Years before, he had threatened to kill his uncle. And not long before Saturday's incident, Christopher and Shawn had problems at the pool. Dallas told his father that "if he had a gun, he'd just wait until they all got in the pool and shoot them all. ... I didn't think he meant it, or I'd have called police."
Then, the last time Carter talked to his son, Dallas said he'd bought a gun. Carter said he believes Dallas used his tax rebate check for the weapon because he had no other money.
Times researchers Shirl Kennedy and Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.