The intentional hit-and-run left Pedro Aguerreberry, 42, dead, and his two sons hospitalized, police said.
Mikese Morse, 30, a former track star and United States Olympic Trials qualifier, was arrested Sunday evening, a few hours after the attack, and charged with crimes that included murder in the first degree, a premeditated and capital offense, according to court documents. Under Florida law, if convicted, murder in the first degree carries either a death sentence or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Just before noon, the Aguerreberrys had been riding their bikes near New Tampa Boulevard and Wood Sage Drive, when Morse stopped his car, made a U-turn, and pursued the family, Police Chief Brian Dugan said at a news conference on Monday.
Morse accelerated, a witness said, and barreled his four-door Dodge into Aguerreberry and his boys. Morse did not stop, fleeing the scene and leaving the boys to "essentially watch their father die," Tampa police said.
"He appears to be someone who is disturbed," said Dugan. "What type of person would purposely run over a family that was just bicycling down a bike path?" Although the attack was premeditated, Morse did not know the Aguerreberry family and apparently selected them at random, Dugan said.
Bennett Aguerreberry, who was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries, and Lucas Aguerreberry are expected to recover. Their father, however, suffered life-threatening injuries and was pronounced dead at another hospital. At the time of Pedro Aguerreberry's death, his wife, Meghan, was with her sons, according to Dugan.
Friends and neighbors called Aguerreberry a devoted father and husband, reported WFTS Tampa Bay, an ABC affiliate.
Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies discovered Morse's car in Pebble Creek with a piece of tape across the windshield, covering the damage. Morse was found two blocks away, at his parents' home; at the time of his arrest, Morse's mother had been preparing dinner for her family. A criminal affidavit says Morse admitted to using his car to attack a father and his two children, Fox 13 News reported.
During an interview with the Associated Press, Morse's parents, Michael and Khadeeja, said that their son, who suffers from debilitating mental illness, has been repeatedly hospitalized, refused to take his medication and ranted on social media. On June 12, Morse was hospitalized under Florida's Baker Act, which allows for involuntarily commitment for a mental-health evaluation, after taking himself to a local police department and exhibiting odd behavior, said Dugan; he was released from the mental-health facility on June 19, the Miami Herald reported. Morse had a psychotic break on Sunday, his parents said.
Morse's Instagram account also appears to have several videos posted before and after the attack. In each, he appears increasingly angry and unhinged. "I'm going to kill somebody," he ends one Instagram selfie video from Sunday morning. Law enforcement is looking into those posts as a part of the investigation, Dugan said.
Morse has no prior criminal convictions, though has been cited for a few traffic violations. He is being held without bail at the Hillsborough County Jail; court records do not list a prosecutor or defense attorney. The county court will hold a pretrial detention hearing on Thursday morning.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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