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Police: Clearwater man thought city employee was 'terrorist'

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:05 PM
CLEARWATER -

The Clearwater man charged with trying to kill a city employee Thursday afternoon by running him down with his pickup truck told investigators he thought the city employee was a terrorist, according to an arrest affidavit.

Gerald Christopher Prebe, 35, was arrested on a charge of attempted murder. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on $100,000 bond.

An arrest affidavit said Prebe was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he struck Clearwater traffic engineering employee Terry Butler. Butler's duties include repairing street signs, painting road stripes and fixing stop lights.

About 1:45 p.m. Thursday, Prebe was driving a 2001 blue Nissan pickup on Magnolia Drive, near Brookside Drive, when he saw Butler standing in the road, the affidavit says. Butler told police the driver hit the gas pedal as he drove toward him, and that the driver was yelling racial slurs when the pickup struck him, the affidavit says.

Prebe is white; Butler is black.

After he was read his Miranda rights, Prebe "stated that he intended to kill the victim because he believed he was a terrorist," the affidavit says.

Butler was taken to Bayfront Medical Center to be treated for a fractured neck and internal bleeding. His condition was stable late Thursday.

When he was struck, Butler was taking a break from his job.

After Butler was hit, police arrested Prebe about a block away. They found him near his truck, which he had run onto the lawn of a neighbor.

At Butler's home Thursday, his children had a hard time understanding who would want to kill their father. Terry Butler, Jr. said his 53-year-old dad is well liked.

"Everyone loves him. We always have parties and stuff over here" said the younger Butler. "Everyone comes. All kinds, races and everything."

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