After the eastbound lanes of Interstate-4 at Interstate-75 were shut down yesterday afternoon –late into the night as deputies and troopers meticulously combed the crime scene– confirmation of the shooting death of 47-year-old Fred William Turner, Jr. of Orlando, Fla., was established. That was about the only tangibly-released detail regarding information from authorities as the investigation continues.
Turner succumbed to gunshot wounds shortly after he was shot by the assailant; he was able to steer his Ford Mustang onto the shoulder where he died.
The suspect continued driving eastbound on Interstate-4 and remains at-large.
Rest assured, those eye-in-sky cameras owned and operated by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) are being scoured and may very well contain the finite detail (leads) to resolve this homicide investigation. From the aforementioned FDOT camera system, viewing operations on its interstate infrastructure, a newer-model silver or gray Ford Taurus with tinted windows has become correlated and of interest in this case.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, a multi-jurisdiction law enforcement response ensued after 47-year-old Turner, operating his automobile eastbound towards Orlando, called 9-1-1. At approximately 3:00 p.m., Turner’s life came to an abrupt, sad halt.
As he was on-line with 9-1-1 operators in Tampa, he revealed another vehicle pulled up alongside his and its operator allegedly brandished a semi-automatic firearm. Turner believed he was in imminent peril as the gunman’s attention was directed at him, while mobile in his car.
When operating a motor vehicle and a phone call is made from any occupant in that vehicle, the cell phone towers acquire the cell phone signal and send the call forward. In this case, since it were a 9-1-1 solicitation for public safety assistance (police/fire/rescue), it went to the Tampa Police Department (TPD) communications center where such calls are received and/or transferred, if applicable.
With that said, this incident’s relative activities occurred in the following manner: Turner’s complaint centered on his allegation that another vehicle was following him, all of which started at an area identified as 50th Street/Columbus Avenue in Tampa, Fla. Thus, when Turner’s suspicions arise to the extent he felt compelled to notify police authorities, his 9-1-1 call is received by the Tampa Police Department communications center.
A Tampa police dispatcher assessed Turner’s complaint, asked pertinent questions such as exact location, direction of travel, and any details related to his complaint (color of automobile, race/sex of occupants, tag information, any verbal exchanges, etc).
From this information extracted by the dispatcher it was ascertained Turner firmly believed he was being followed, did not know why, and that he was on Interstate 4, the shared jurisdiction of both the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and the Florida Highway Patrol (primarily a traffic enforcement-oriented police agency).
Turner was now exiting Tampa police jurisdiction and, rightly so, transferred to another law enforcement agency since no established criminal offense had occurred and/or been reported in Tampa’s jurisdiction.
The city of Tampa’s police force has some jurisdictional responsibility on Interstate-4 since a stretch of it wends through its city limits, until it butts-up against the next jurisdictional geography and the agency whose responsibility overlaps TPDs.
While in adjoining jurisdiction, yet still on the phone with a Tampa Police Department 9-1-1 operator, a sequence of gunshots were overheard by the Tampa police dispatcher. Whether related or not, now a criminal event ostensibly has transpired, however in a neighboring agency’s jurisdictional responsibility.
As per protocol, once the operator realizes a point during conversation in any 9-1-1 call whereby he/she determines the caller is neither in the agency jurisdiction and nor has a crime been committed in its area of investigative responsibility, the call is then transferred via the manual push of one button on the dispatcher’s console. This action occurred.
At that point, the caller’s complaint is received by the next adjoining jurisdiction in which case, in this unique circumstance, either the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office or the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is summoned to assume responsibility for Turner’s complaint.
As Turner continued to travel in his automobile, the confluence of cell phone towers acquire his cell signal. Albeit a relatively short distance from when TPD received his summon for help and when it was transferred to the next public safety agency-of-jurisdiction, a few miles of physical travel elapsed.
Even though the agency of primary jurisdictional responsibility, in this case the Florida Highway Patrol, can be notified to assume Turner’s complaint, the Tampa police dispatcher also has an option to notify the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department. Logistically, the HCSO has more deputies in any one given district (HCSO maintains four districts in its tremendously-staffed ranks patrolling among diverse communities) and has countywide jurisdiction, even in municipalities organized as sovereign governments within Hillsborough County borders.
Conversely, the FHP has jurisdictional patrol responsibility for over 5,500 square miles of geographic area, assigned to Troop-C, which encompasses the area in which Turner was murdered. However, it deploys far fewer troopers –in comparison and in a macro sense– than does the HCSO with its deputy deployment ratio.
Statewide, there are twelve Troops segmented throughout Florida, each comprising metropolis and/or rural counties under its jurisdictional responsibility. Tampa is a densely populated area for FHP troopers to patrol and enforce traffic laws, both criminal and/or civil infractions. However, FHP employs far fewer law enforcement officers.
Criminal events not involving some fashion of traffic-related incident(s) are largely left to municipal- and county-level police departments to investigate and for which to be officially responsible.
Although represented with statewide jurisdiction in the scope of law enforcement authority, FHP largely maintains its presence on the roadways in the state of Florida. As its name implies, Florida Highway Patrol does, in essence, patrol just highways (roadways).
Suffice it to say, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, with a contingent of over 3000 deputies in its county employ, has assumed the lead role in the investigation of Turner’s death.
Interstate-4 and Interstate-75 wend through Hillsborough County thus according jurisdictional authority to investigate and exert its law enforcement powers, whether it be traffic enforcement and/or criminal events.
With that said, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee has declared that, however early in the investigative tasks at-hand, there remains a possibility that Turner’s death originated from a road rage interaction. Gee is asking for the public, especially the motoring public who were on Interstate-4 at around the time of this shooting event, at approximately 3:00 p.m. on June 29, 2013, to contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and/or the Florida Highway Patrol.
“We’re asking for any information from anybody. We know there were other cars in the area and we believe other people did see at least parts of what may have occurred,” said Sheriff Gee.
Law enforcement authorities investigating this homicide ask for anyone with any information pertaining to this case to please call Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-8377.
To automatically receive for FREE this writer’s articles as they are written/published, simply click the “Subscribe” icon atop this page; each of his published works will be sent directly to your email account. Have an opinion, suggestion, or comment? Record what is on your mind in the “Comments” section below.