Tampa Bay Times
June 28, 2018
On a Sunday morning, a father and his two young sons went for a bike ride in the New Tampa suburbs. The boys, 3 and 8, wore bike helmets to keep them safe.
The man driving the Dodge was just five days out of a mental health facility. This time he had been involuntarily committed after he walked into a police station, said some bizarre things and warned a cop he might hurt someone. Sometime that Sunday, he posted wild-eyed, ominous ravings on Instagram. His parents would later say they tried for years to get him the right help.
What happened next is the definition of madness.
Twelve days before he was accused of killing a man and injuring two children, Mikese Morse visited a Tampa police substation and predicted he would hurt someone if he wasn't detained, records show. He was taken into protective custody under Florida's Baker Act. But he was set free a week later. [Tampa Police Department, Times file]Police say 30-year-old Mikese Morse — once a college athlete and an Olympic hopeful — made a U-turn, crossed a lane of oncoming traffic, drove over the grass onto the bike path, stepped on the gas and hit the family. Pedro Aguerreberry, 42, died and his sons were injured. They will recover, but without their father.
Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan told reporters Morse did this deliberately, purposely, intentionally. The chief also said there was no evidence Morse knew the people he hit — no simmering conflict, no hint of the usual motives of money, anger, jealousy, hate, revenge. "Random," was the word the chief used. "For no apparent reason whatsoever," he said.
A question, then: Did a man die at least in part because of a lack of adequate mental health care for someone who clearly needed it, not only for himself but also to keep the world safe from him?
Did our state — ranked in recent years next to last in spending on mental health — play a part?
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What does Gov. Rick Scott have to say about all this? What do members of our state legislature have to say?