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Deadly fight outside Brandon bowling alley was between half brothers, report says

Travis Polk, 30, died after his head hit the pavement multiple times while fighting with Jose Vasquez, Jr., who is now charged with manslaughter, records show.
Travis Polk, 30, seen here in a public photo on his Facebook page, died on Nov. 16, 2019, six days after he was critically injured in a fight with his half brother Jose Vasquez, Jr. outside of Brandon Crossroads Bowl, authorities say. Vasquez was charged with manslaughter. [Facebook]
Travis Polk, 30, seen here in a public photo on his Facebook page, died on Nov. 16, 2019, six days after he was critically injured in a fight with his half brother Jose Vasquez, Jr. outside of Brandon Crossroads Bowl, authorities say. Vasquez was charged with manslaughter. [Facebook]
Published Nov. 22, 2019

BRANDON — Early one morning this month, Jose Vasquez, Jr. got into a fight with a man outside a Brandon bowling alley. When the man died in the hospital, Vasquez was charged with manslaughter.

The victim, it turns out, was Vasquez’s half brother.

Travis Polk, 30, died on Nov. 16, six days after fighting with Vasquez outside the Brandon Crossroads Bowl, according to an arrest report. Authorities then charged Vasquez, 22, of Tampa with manslaughter.

Polk’s name and relationship to Vasquez are among new details included in the report added to court records this week.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday that Vasquez had been charged with manslaughter but did not release Polk’s name or note that he was related to Vasquez. The Sheriff’s Office now generally withholds the names of alleged crime victims, citing its interpretation of a state constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law.

The fight started outside the bowling alley on Crater Lane about 1 a.m. One witness told investigators that Vasquez and Polk, who share the same mother, started wrestling and fell to the ground at least twice, the report says.

Both times, Polk hit his head on the pavement, the witness said.

After the second fall, the witness tried to intercede. By then, the witness said, Polk appeared to be “out of it.”

“The witness then related that the defendant again intentionally struck the victim in the face with a closed fist, which caused his legs to buckle, causing him to fall to the asphalt again, striking his head again,” the report says. “The witness related that the victim was not a threat to the defendant at the time of the strike.”

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, Vasquez gave them a fake name and then fled, according to the report.

Jose Vasquez, Jr., 22, of Tampa is charged with manslaughter in the death of his half brother, 30-year-old Travis Polk. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]

Paramedics took Polk to Tampa General Hospital, where he arrived in critical condition. Doctors told investigators he’d suffered a traumatic brain injury, and surgeons had to remove a portion of his skull to relieve pressure from his brain, according to the report.

Polk’s girlfriend of about 10 years, Maritza Perez, told investigators that Vasquez called her the day after the fight and said he was “sorry” and “didn’t mean it to happen,” the report says.

Vasquez was arrested on Nov. 13 and charged with felony battery and providing false information to a law enforcement officer. At the time, he was also wanted for failing to appear in court on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, records show.

Polk died three days later and the Hillsborough Medical Examiner concluded he died from blunt impact to the head and skull fracture as a result of the fight. Authorities upgraded the battery charge against Vasquez to manslaughter.

Vasquez was being held without bail in the Hillsborough County jail.

Records show Vasquez also has pending cases for robbery, carrying a concealed weapon, witness tampering and possession of a controlled substance. His arrest record in Florida dates back to 2009, with a prior conviction for armed robbery.

Perez did not respond to messages. Family members of the two men did not respond to messages or could not be reached.

According to social media posts, Polk and Perez had at least two young children together.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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