Florida Man Shot Dead in Local Dog Park After Prior Harassment

Tampa, Florida – John Walter Lay, a 52-year-old man, tragically lost his life in his favorite Tampa dog park after a fatal shooting. The day before the shooting, Lay had recorded a video at the park, detailing a recent altercation with a man who had been harassing him for months. Friends and family of Lay claim that the individual had been hurling homophobic slurs and making threats towards Lay. The shooter, identified as 65-year-old Gerald Declan Radford, has not been arrested or charged as of Thursday.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Radford claimed he shot Lay in self-defense. However, friends and family of Lay dispute this claim, stating that Lay had been actively trying to avoid any confrontation with the shooter. An ongoing dispute between the two men had escalated over time, leading to Lay’s untimely death.

Lay, a former U.S. Navy member, had a close-knit group of friends in the dog park community. His decision to remain in Tampa, rather than moving closer to his family, was influenced by the friendships he had formed there. Lay’s sister, Sabrena Lay Hughes, described how Lay cherished the community he had built in Tampa, particularly after adopting a shelter dog, Fala, and frequently visiting the West Dog Park.

The situation between Lay and Radford reportedly escalated due to political differences and Radford’s discovery of Lay’s open homosexuality. Radford began targeting Lay with derogatory language, leading to further tensions in the park. Lay’s friends mentioned that he had been advised to document the harassment, and Lay had begun doing so, recording a video of the incidents at the park the morning before he was shot.

Following the fatal shooting, Radford contacted Lay’s friend, Albert Darlington, claiming that Lay had attacked him first. This claim was met with skepticism by Lay’s friends, who were deeply shocked and troubled by the events that unfolded at the dog park. The community of dog park regulars was further shaken by the lack of law enforcement intervention immediately after the shooting, sparking questions regarding the handling of the investigation.

The family and friends of John Walter Lay are seeking justice for his untimely death. Despite the grief and loss, they are still grappling with unanswered questions and uncertainties surrounding the tragic incident at the Tampa dog park. Substantial details about the sheriff’s investigation have been withheld from the family, leaving them with a deep sense of loss and the desire for justice for Lay.