TAMPA — The fear came through in his voice. So did the confusion: Why was someone following his car? And why did the other driver have a gun?
The chaos played out on a 911 recording made last June that turned out to be the last phone call Fred Turner Jr. would ever make. He was shot to death while driving on Interstate 4 in Tampa.
Investigators said Turner, 47, of Orlando was the victim of mistaken identity. On Monday, they made public the evidence they have collected against Jerome Hayes, who is charged with murder.
The evidence includes the recording of the call Turner made to 911.
Turner, who was driving a green Ford Mustang, told the dispatch operator that the driver of a Ford Taurus was following him with its windows down and was getting closer as they headed east on Interstate 4 approaching Interstate 75.
Turner told the operator he didn’t know who the man was or why he would follow him. He didn’t recall upsetting anyone or cutting someone off in traffic.
“Now he’s got both his windows down and he’s going to drive up beside me,” Turner said. “If he shoots his gun, I’m gone.”
“Try to get away from him,” said the dispatcher, who had already sent an officer.
“I’m doing about 80 now, but I’m going with the flow of traffic,” Turner said. “He’s going to pull up beside me on the right side now.”
“Are you there?’’ the dispatcher asked. “Sir? Are you there? Hello? Hello, are you there?....The phone line’s open. I didn’t hear a bullet or anything but I heard like an echo.”
Investigators said Hayes mistook Turner for a man he and his friend, Ronnie Isgett, of Dover, had gotten into a fight with a short time earlier at the Tampa Gold Club, an adult-oriented club at 6222 Adamo Drive. Turner had been at Tres Equis adult video arcade, which is next door to Tampa Gold Club and shares the parking lot.
Isgett told investigators he and Hayes, 49, of St. Cloud, are old school buddies who were catching up after several years of being disconnected. They had planned a fishing trip, but it was a bad day for fishing. They returned from St. Petersburg to Tampa and went to the Deja Vu, where they had a few drinks next door.
According to court documents, they then went to the Tampa Gold Club, where Hayes and Isgett got into a fight with James Prather, a regular at the club. Hayes and Isgett were kicked out.
Concerned for Prather’s safety, club manager Roy Sansbury kept Prather inside until Hayes and Isgett drove off.
But instead of heading home, Hayes drove after Turner’s green Mustang, thinking it was Prather at the steering wheel, investigators said.
Isgett later told investigators he was in pain and dazed and had his seat back. As they were driving, Hayes put bullets and the gun’s magazine on Isgett’s chest and told him to load the gun, Isgett told investigators. Isgett said he was reluctant and couldn’t use his left arm anyway because he had been hurt in the fight.
Hayes took the bullets from him and loaded the gun himself, Isgett told investigators.
“I saw him start shakin it out the window and he was yellin at somebody,” Isgett told investigators.
Isgett said he never saw the car and thought Hayes might be trying to protect them.
“Then I heard a couple of shots,” Isgett said to investigators.
According to Isgett, Hayes then told him: “I think I got him.... Man, you should see the look on your face.”