A Florida man turned himself in to authorities investigating an alleged road rage-fueled murder in which an Army veteran from Orlando was killed.
Jerome Edward Hayes, 48, of St. Cloud, Fla., was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Orlando resident Fred William Turner Jr., 47, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Turner was shot and killed Saturday afternoon on I-4 near Tampa, moments after the 82nd Airborne Division veteran called 911 to complain that somebody was following him on the Florida interstate. Turner was heading home toward Orlando.
“While on the phone the victim stated that the vehicle following him had earlier pulled up next to his vehicle and someone displayed what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon to him. The victim stated that he had done nothing to cause someone to follow him. The victim stayed on the phone with 911 operators and the dispatchers heard multiple gunshots,” the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Saturday. “According to a witness in the area, the victim then pulled off the roadway and the suspect vehicle fled the scene. This occurred in the area of Interstate 4 in the eastbound lane.”
Turner died at the scene of his injuries. The alleged road rage incident led authorities to shutter I-4 for eight hours “so that detectives could investigate the scene and walk the interstate looking for any evidence relative to the homicide.”
It was unclear why authorities suspected Hayes of shooting Turner, but the St. Cloud resident voluntarily turned over his gun and permitted police to search his car before he was arrested, according to the Times.
Turner’s ex-wife told the Orlando Sentinel that the alleged road rage victim never sought out confrontation.
"He did nothing wrong," said his former wife, Lillian Schlesak, of Clearwater, Fla., told the paper. "He was a wonderful man and if anyone knows anything they need to come forward."
The Sentinel reported that Turner joined the Army years ago to finance his college education. After his stint in the military, Turner got jobs in the hospitality industry. At the time of his death, he worked at the Caribe All-Suite Royal Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando.
Donna Smithburger, head of human resources for the hotel, said Turner was an ideal employee.
"Fred certainly was an excellent worker and he's going to be missed," she said.
Hayes’ attorney, Nicholas Mattassini, declined to discuss the case with the Times, saying he did not have a chance to review all the evidence in the alleged road rage murder.