Clearwater, FL — Police have charged a man with attempted murder after he hit a Florida city worker with his truck because he thought the worker looked like a terrorist.
Gerald Christopher Prebe, 35, is reportedly a father of two young children who lives in a neighborhood in Clearwater. Terry Butler, 53, also lives in the same neighborhood as Prebe but according to police, the two didn’t know each other.
Butler is an African-American who has worked for the city of Clearwater in the Street Department for 24 years. Butler’s duties include repairing street signs, painting road stripes and fixing stop lights.
According to the police affidavit, one weekday afternoon in April at about 1:45pm, Prebe was driving his blue Nissan pickup when he saw Butler standing in the road after having finished his lunch break. At that moment Prebe, who was approaching Butler, yelled racial slurs out his open window, accelerated his vehicle, swerved toward Butler and struck him – throwing Butler 20 feet in the air.
After Butler was hit, Prebe sped off. Police arrested Prebe about one block away near his truck, which he had run onto the lawn of a neighbor. The arrest affidavit said Prebe was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs but after being read his Miranda rights, he made incriminating statements that indicate the act could have been racially motivated. Prebe stated that he, in fact, “intended to kill the victim because he believed he was a terrorist.”
Butler had to have emergency surgery for a fractured neck and internal bleeding. His injuries were described at the time as “serious, but not life threatening.” His release was not reported, but we can assume that he is recovering. Prebe was arrested on a charge of attempted murder and aggravated battery. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on $100,000 bond. There has been no report of his release.
Al-Jazeerah, which I read mostly for the comics, has reported that the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Tampa) called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to add hate crime charges. As of this date, there has been no report that those charges have been added.
Police are still investigating the intent of the crime. Apparently, they were not content with the “counter-terrorism” explanation proffered by Mr. Prebe – as sensible as it might seem to some.Tags: Attempted Murder, Crime, Florida, Gerald Prebe, Hate Crime, Hit and Run, terrorism, terrorist, Terry Butler