TAMPA - An argument over a minor traffic accident spiraled into an attack on an ice cream truck driver Thursday that left him bleeding and reeling from a gunshot and stab wounds, according to Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies.
The man accused of attacking him was later wounded in a shootout with Hillsborough sheriff's deputies at a North Tampa apartment.
The man fired several shots at four deputies at the Lexington Apartments at 11738 N 14th St. before deputies fired back, hitting him, said Lt. Rod Reder, Sheriff's Office spokesman.
Eduardo Carmenates-Zayas, 44, of 11733 N 12th St., Apartment H, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. Reder said deputies shot him in the shoulder and the arm. He was under guard at the hospital and faces several counts of attempted homicide on a law enforcement officer and attempted homicide, Reder said.
The driver of the ice cream truck, Ahmed Almomani, 20, of 11500 Summit West Blvd., was in stable condition at Tampa General Hospital, suffering from stab wounds and a gunshot, Reder said.
Witnesses said Thursday's shooting stemmed from an argument Carmenates-Zayas started with Almomani on Wednesday. Carmenates-Zayas blamed Almomani for backing into his boat with the ice cream truck. Neighbors said he demanded $500 for damage to the boat's trailer.
"You better pay up, or else you're going to see what happens to you," Carmenates-Zayas threatened, according to Benito Torres, 32, whose wife manages the 40-unit apartment complex.
Almomani came to the complex several times a day selling ice cream, and he had already visited at least once before the shooting, Torres said. He worked for Super Soft Ice Cream Co., Reder said.
Jessica Esquilin, 15, said she had gone outside to check the mail when she saw Carmenates-Zayas walk toward the ice cream truck, reach his arm inside and open fire.
"I saw him shooting, and I felt like, "I'm going to die. I'm going to die,' " Esquilin said. "I saw smoke come out of the gun. Everybody's screaming, and the ice cream man ran out the back of the truck."
Esquilin said she ran inside the complex office, attached to Torres' apartment, yelling for help.
"She said, "Somebody's getting shot! Somebody's getting shot!"' Torres said. "When I went outside, I saw the ice cream man getting stabbed in the head and the shoulder blades."
Injured and bleeding, Almomani somehow made his way toward Torres, who stood in front of the office door as a barricade. Torres said he closed the door and at first tried to keep Almomani from coming inside because he had about 10 children in the home and was trying to protect them.
"Then I thought, "God, what am I doing? I can't let him die.' "
So he opened the door and let in Almomani. He tried to get him to stay in the office, but Almomani began wandering through the living room and bathroom, tracking blood everywhere, Torres said.
Concerned about his ice cream truck, Almomani gave Torres his brother's phone number and asked him to call him to come and get it, Torres said.
About this time, Hillsborough deputies had arrived, and a shootout occurred between them and Carmenates-Zayas.
In the aftermath, as deputies taped off the complex, children ran through the blocked-off streets. Inside the complex parking lot, the ice cream truck sat on the pavement, close to a boat leaning on its side. "He was just doing his job," said Ruth Rodriguez, 16. "He was just selling ice cream."
Four deputies were involved in the 5:30 p.m. shooting. All will be placed on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting. Reder said the deputies who fired shots were Chris Former, 32, a six-year veteran; William Roeling, 24, a two-year veteran; Mike Williams, 31, who is in field training after spending four years as a detention deputy; and Mike Russell, 45, a 17-year veteran.
Deputy C.P. Hollis, a three-year veteran, did not fire his weapon, but he was taken to University Community Hospital, treated and released after debris from the shooting got into his eye, Reder said.