Investigators detail threatening behavior that led to Navy SEAL's shooting

Tim Martin, in a family photo with son Rocco, was shot and killed during an argument at a bar over his ex-girlfriend, investigators said. [Courtesy of Nathan Fager]
Tim Martin, in a family photo with son Rocco, was shot and killed during an argument at a bar over his ex-girlfriend, investigators said. [Courtesy of Nathan Fager]
Published July 1, 2016

TAMPA —A former Navy SEAL who was fatally shot in November at a South Tampa restaurant last November had a history of erratic and threatening behavior toward others, according to records released this week from the State Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors determined manager Jeffrey Glenn acted in self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law when he shot and killed Timothy Martin, 37, at the SoHo Backyard, according to a June 24 letter from the office to Tampa police Chief Eric Ward.

The fatal argument between Martin and Glenn was about Glenn's relationship with a restaurant bartender who was Martin's former girlfriend, according to the three-page letter.

Police responded to the restaurant just after 2:30 a.m. Nov. 29. Officers found Martin lying on the ground at the restaurant's entrance with a gunshot wound to the head. Glenn had called 911, investigators said. He told police he was defending himself from a charging Martin, who had already hit the manager repeatedly and threatened to kill him, investigators said.

After Martin and the bartender broke up in July 2015, investigators said, police responded to a number of complaints about the former SEAL's behavior at the SoHo Backyard. In August, investigators said, a severely intoxicated Martin put a bartender into a choke hold. Police came to the restaurant on another night in September after Martin refused to leave, investigators said.

By late November, investigators said, bar employees were keeping a gun at the restaurant in case Martin showed up, as he was known to do around closing time.

"Employees at the Soho Backyard were concerned about Mr. Martin's behavior," the letter from the State Attorney's Office says. "One employee told investigators that every night the employees were 'on edge' at the prospect of Mr. Martin 'show(ing) up and doing something to harm someone.' "

Martin's aggression continued into the weeks leading up to the fatal shooting, investigators said. In late November, investigators said, Martin sent a text message to a mutual friend threatening Glenn and the bartender — including his intention to "burn that bar to the ground."

"She's dead … So is Jeff," one text read.

The bartender was not identified in the state attorney's letter.

The text messages are evidence of Martin's struggles with mental illness following his military service, his brother Nathan Fager told the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday.

Prosecutors informed Martin's family in Michigan last week about their decision not to prosecute the man who shot him.

"I know him different than to make death threats as a homicidal maniac," Fager said in an email Thursday. "What I see is a man deeply hurt, heartbroken, and struggling emotionally in ways I cannot begin to understand."

Fager has said that his brother left the Navy Sea-Air-Land, or SEAL, force in 2007, after five years of service because he couldn't bring himself to kill.

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter

We’ll deliver the latest news and information you need to know every morning.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

The letter from the State Attorney's Office backs up Fager's assessment of his brother's mental state, saying the investigation indicates "that Mr. Martin was describing an ongoing difficulty in dealing with post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and alcohol abuse."

"By all accounts Mr. Martin was a good man, an excellent father and a patriot who served his country honorably as a Navy Seal," the letter says. "It is also evident that he was unaccepting of, and conflicted by the ending of his relationship with a SoHo Backyard bartender in July, 2015."

Times staff writer Howard Altman contributed to this report. Contact Samuel Howard at (813)-226-3373 or Follow @SamuelHHoward