Man dies after running away from shooting
When Victoria Phelps arrived at Blake Medical Center on Oct. 19 after her Facebook page was flooded with messages about her brother dying after a shooting, she immediately approached officers and asked them what had happened. She was hoping that by some miracle, he had survived being shot.
But what she was eventually told still baffles her today. Her 24-year-old brother, Arron Fludd, had died of a heart attack, not from a gunshot wound, while running away after a botched drug deal and shooting.
“A heart attack,” Phelps recalled being told during an interview in her home on Tuesday. She paused, appearing to relive her shock and disbelief at the time before saying, “I just couldn’t imagine.”
She was confused as to how her younger brother, who had recently just turned 24, could have died of a heart attack. What made the news harder to accept was that doctors would not talk to her and she was not allowed to see her brother’s body because the police investigation was underway.
“I had to go forward with planning a funeral by word of mouth,” Phelps said. “I didn’t see my brother until his funeral.”
Phelps’s cousin was with her brother and had been injured during the shooting that night, but he survived.
The two men had gone to the Village of Cortez apartment complex, 4880 51st St. W., Bradenton, about 8 p.m. that night to sell a half-pound of marijuana to Mauriece Ladarhyll McGee Jr., according to Bradenton police.
Police said Phelps’ cousin set up the deal.
Phelps acknowledged that the men were in Bradenton to sell drugs but no matter what anyone else thought or said, there was no way of keeping Fludd away from her cousin. Phelps and Fludd had different fathers, so Fludd and the other man were not related by blood.
When McGee tried to pay, Fludd and his cousin
realized that two of the hundred dollar bills were counterfeit.
McGee got out of the maroon Toyota Avalon Fludd and the other victim were in as two others appeared. The front doors of the car were opened and shots were fired into the car. Fludd took off running into the adjacent Bay Pointe at Cortez condo community, 4850 51st St. W., Bradenton.
Police were called to the scene and arrived to find Phelps’s 24-year-old cousin in the driver’s seat of the car with multiple gunshot wounds. Within moments of that initial 911 call, paramedics were also called to Bay Pointe at Cortez after someone found Fludd collapsed faced down.
Both men were rushed to Blake Medical Center, where Fludd died.
Police were called to the second scene and initially thought Fludd had been shot before running away, but an autopsy confirmed he had not been struck.
An autopsy was inconclusive, however, and the medical examiner’s office has not made an official ruling on Fludd’s cause of death. According to Bradenton police, the medical examiner is awaiting the results of a toxicology and special testing being done on his heart.
“We are trying to conduct a very thorough investigation while understanding that a family has lost a loved one,” Bradenton police Capt. Brian Thiers said.
Police could not allow Phelps to see her brother at the hospital because his body had to be treated like that of a homicide victim, given the circumstances that led to the suspected heart attack, police said.
Since then police have not told her much, Phelps said, and would not return his wallet to her because it is considered evidence in the case. As a result, Phelps, a mother of four, struggled to pay for his funeral, she said.
“We don’t know what killed Arron Fludd,”
Thiers said. “Until we do, we treat it as a homicide.”
Because of that, police are preserving anything that could be evidence. Detectives have not yet identified the other two people involved in the shooting but are still receiving tips in the case and conducting interviews.
McGee has been charged with grand theft for the use of the counterfeit money but not with any charges directly connected with the shooting.
Her brother had not been the target of the shooting, according to what Phelps’ cousin told her, she said.
“My brother just happened to be there,” she said.
The case is a unique one for Bradenton police, given the circumstances suggesting that Fludd’s fear as he fled could have contributed to or caused his heart attack.
According to his sister, Fludd had some recent health issues but despite numerous trips to local clinics and hospitals, including the very hospital where he died, all doctors could tell him was that he may have been suffering from anxiety and high blood pressure. Despite that, police still think the shooting may have worsened his condition and led to his death.
If true, anyone implicated in the shooting could face a homicide charge in Fludd’s death.
Fludd and Phelps’ mother died four years ago, when her own heart gave out one day after coming home from work, the sister explained. Fludd’s father died when he was a young boy.
“He was all I had left,” Phelps said.
Victoria Phelps talks about how she learned of the death of her brother, Arron Fludd, at the scene of a drug deal.