Man dies af­ter run­ning away from shoot­ing

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Front Page - BRADEN­TON BY JES­SICA DE LEON [email protected]­ton.com

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.

TIF­FANY TOMPKINS ttomp­[email protected]­ton.com

Vic­to­ria Phelps talks about how she learned of the death of her brother, Ar­ron Fludd, at the scene of a drug deal.

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