On Sunday, a Tampa father took his two young sons to spend the afternoon riding bicycles. Pedro Aguerreberry, 42, towed his 3-year-old, Bennett, in a trailer and Lucas, 8, rode his bike behind them. The three were wearing helmets and on a marked bike path when a man plowed a burgundy Dodge Caliber into the family, police said. The intentional hit-and-run left Aguerreberry dead and his sons hospitalized, police said.
Mikese Morse, 30, a former track star and U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier, was arrested Sunday evening, a few hours after the attack, and charged with crimes including first-degree murder, a premeditated and capital offense, according to court documents. Under Florida law, a conviction for that crime carries 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 onto the bicycle path, Police Chief Brian Dugan said at a news conference Monday. Morse accelerated, a witness said, and barreled his vehicle 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,” Dugan said. “What type of person would purposely run over a family that was just bicycling down a bike path?” Although the attack was thought to be premeditated, Morse did not know the Aguerreberry family and apparently selected them at random, Dugan said.
Lucas and Bennett, who was flown to a hospital with serious injuries, are expected to recover. Aguerreberry was pronounced dead at another hospital. At the time of Aguerreberry’s death, his wife, Meghan Aguerreberry, had been with their sons, Dugan said.
Friends and neighbors called Aguerreberry a devoted father and husband, reported WFTS Tampa Bay, an ABC affiliate.
After the Tampa Police Department released a description of Morse’s vehicle, a citizen contacted authorities. With the assistance of concerned residents, police were able to locate Morse and his vehicle within about three hours.
Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies discovered Morse’s car in Pebble Creek with a piece of tape across the windshield, covering 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 said that 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 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 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 officials are looking into these posts as part of the investigation, Dugan said.
Morse has no prior criminal convictions, although he 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.