The gunfight between Pinellas County (Fla.) Sheriff's deputies and Kentin Dion Brooks ended along Gulf Boulevard.
There are those who view violence as an end to itself, an act to be indulged for no reason other than its commission. For these men, the mere sight of an officer's uniform or patrol unit may be a clarion call to arms.
Kentin Dion Brooks was such an individual. But what compelled this man to take the fight to Florida police officers—to go literally and figuratively well out of his way to do so—remains a mystery.
Brooks' back story included a fledgling career as a hip-hop artist and promoter. And he also logged enough drug and weapons charges for the requisite street cred. But while his raps may have hinted at the man's capacity for violence, it may well have been a head injury that proved the tipping point in Brooks' making good on any such promise.
In early 2009, Brooks took part in an ill-considered nightclub brawl where he suffered a serious blow to the head. A series of severe headaches and blackouts plagued him for months thereafter, precipitating personality changes that made domestic life with the 26-year-old increasingly difficult. Brooks' volatility was such that on Oct. 28, 2009, his increasingly distraught wife drove him to St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg in the hopes that its staff might be able to treat him.
The hospital's staff never got the chance to help him.
"I'm fine," a curt Brooks advised the hospital admission staff. He exited the hospital's doors no better off than when he'd entered.
PHOTOS: See images from the crime scene.
Ford Mustangs are designed to garner notice. But it wasn't the muscle car's contours or tinted windows that caught the attention of an Indian Shores, Fla., patrol officer at 10:30 that night. It was the danger its driver posed in weaving in and out of traffic and cutting off several other motorists.
Pulling in behind the Mustang, the officer attempted to stop it. But at the sight of the officer's takedown lights, the Mustang's driver sped up, precipitating a brief pursuit that the officer prudently canceled once speeds reached 90 mph.
The sight of a patrol car's image receding in the rear view mirror would have given most drivers cause for relief. But Brooks' reaction was different: If anything, the canceled pursuit seemed to provoke him.
Doubling back on Gulf Boulevard, Brooks resumed his campaign of vehicular terror, speeding up and cutting off motorists, turning his headlights on and off, and at one point even performing "donuts" in the middle of the roadway for the benefit of an officer who was stopped nearby.
Brooks' bid to put himself back on law enforcement's radar paid off-repeatedly. But each time an observing officer would put himself in pursuit, history would repeat itself with Brooks' dangerously high speeds resulting in another aborted chase.
What's His Game?
Pinellas County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office Sgt. Raymond Fleming monitored updates of the Mustang's back-and-forth progress over the radio, and wondered about the driver's plan. Reconciling the driver's actions with a possible motive wasn't easy; nothing fit with Fleming's professional frame of reference.
Dispatchers tried to contact the car's registered owner in a bid to determine whether the vehicle was stolen. For now, the identity of the Mustang's driver and what other threats might lie beyond its tinted windows remained a mystery. Rather than waste time trying to divine the driver's intent, Fleming and Sgt. Joseph Gerretz were committed to doing everything they could to get the Mustang stopped with minimal jeopardy to its driver, other motorists, or any personnel on scene. The officers developed a game plan that would allow for a sufficient number of patrol units to converge on the Mustang and isolate it.
AUDIO: Listen to dispatch traffic of officers pursuing Brooks.