UPDATE: On Thursday night, Tampa Police arrested Teddy Baltimore Smith Jr., 44. He faces a charge of second-degree murder.
TAMPA — Two men feuded over spit before one fatally stabbed the other in the chest at a busy Tampa intersection on Wednesday, according to police and witness accounts.
Gilbert Serna, 56, was a passenger in a Dodge Ram landscaping truck when its driver stopped on Fowler Avenue at Interstate 275 beside a black BMW, police said.
The BMW was to Serna's right.
"They pulled up to a red light, and he (Serna) spit out the window, not thinking anything of it," said Ellis Hutson, who owns the Ram and was later briefed by driver Jeffery Hunter and police.
"He hit the other guy."
It's unclear whether the spit hit a person or only a car.
Police said the BMW driver left his car to "verbally confront" Serna and then "inflicted upper-body trauma" on him. The weapon was not described. Police said there's no evidence the two knew each other.
Hutson, relaying the Ram driver's account, said the BMW driver got out and began punching Serna, who responded, "Hey man, I'm sorry, I didn't mean nothing by it."
"The man stopped and turned around, like he was going to go back to his car," Hutson said. "But he turned around and stabbed him in the heart. That's what police and Jeffery told me."
Next, the Ram driver — who was uninjured — tried to chase the BMW but realized his passenger, Serna, was not doing well, police said.
"The driver of the truck attempted to follow the BMW as it headed west on Fowler," police spokesman Steve Hegarty said.
The truck stopped at 109th Avenue and Ashley Street.
The BMW continued and police were still searching for it Wednesday evening. They released a video of the two vehicles, one after another, on Fowler Avenue and asked for the public's help finding a black BMW convertible.
Officers performed CPR on Serna.
His sister, Rosalinda Serna, 57, arrived at the scene.
"They took me over there to where he was at," she said. "He was just slumped over. I looked at his neck to see if he was breathing, and he wasn't. So I kissed him on the neck and told him please wake up, please wake up."
He was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries, police said.
Hutson, part-owner of Hutson & McLendon Lawn & Tree Service, said Serna had been on his way to help a friend move.
Rosalinda Serna said her brother had three children and three grandchildren.
He also had a dark side. State records show he was a registered sex offender in Florida with a history of abusing children in Texas.