Shot four times and barely conscious, survivor of shooting rampage tells jury how he got away
TAMPA, Fla. - In dramatic and emotional testimony, a survivor of the 2010 Thanksgiving Day shootings of six men described in horrific detail the murderous rampage of a man who said he was searching for someone named "Creeper."
Daniel Beltron said he and five of his buddies were playing poker and drinking beer on the front porch of a friend’s house in Ruskin when a minivan pulled up and a man got out of it wearing a shirt that said "Sheriff" written on the front.
When they told him no one there was named "Creeper," he says the man ordered everyone to get on the ground and get out their ID's.
RELATED: Lead detective in Keetley trial grilled over missing surveillance video, failure to record interrogation
Beltron still believed the man was law enforcement, even after the first shots were fired, striking Juan Guitron. He said Guitron refused to get on the ground and told the man to "chill out."
That’s when "he started shooting him," said Beltron – although Beltron didn’t believe they were real bullets.
"At some point do you start believing that this man was not a law enforcement officer," the prosecutor asked Beltron.
"Not at that point," said Beltron, explaining "when he shot Juan, I thought they must be bean bags or something."
PREVIOUS: Jury in ice cream man murder trial hears about the search for Creeper
Beltron said he believed the would-be officer shot Guitron for being defiant, but as the shooting continued, it became clear the bullets where real and that this was no officer.
"I heard one gunshot, and I didn’t want to turn around, and then I heard two more shots, and I still didn’t want to turn around. And then I heard him walking behind me or getting closer," Beltron said.
He says he finally turned to look and saw the man put the gun to Richard Cantu’s head. Beltron became emotional as he described the shooter pulling the trigger.
He says at that point he tried to fight back with an empty beer bottle.
"I grabbed it, tried to get up to hit him with the beer bottle and he seen me moving, and he just turned around, and he shot me in the hip," he said.
MORE: Computer searches focus on testimony at the trial of ice cream man accused of revenge murders
Beltron says after he fell over, the shooter came up to him and kicked him, then tried to aim for the head.
"I was just moving everywhere," Beltron said, explaining that he kept moving to avoid being shot.
As Beltron started crawling away, he said the gunman shot toward him but missed, hitting a window. He says the man then came closer and shot him in the chest causing him to fall off the porch.
Even after that, the shooter continued to pursue him.
"I looked over, and I seen him look over the railings to see if I was dead or alive," Beltron said. "I seen him pointing at me – I turned around to keep crawling away from there, and he shot me again in the back."
Still, the shooter wasn’t finished.
READ: Prosecutors say ice cream man accused of Thanksgiving Day revenge murders modified his handgun
"He looked at me again to see if I was dead. He shot at me again. He hit my ear, but it just grazed me," he said.
Beltron dragged himself toward the back side of the house where he spotted a metal fence with a chair in front of it. Bloody, with gunshot wounds throughout his body and the sound of more gunfire echoing in the background, he crawled up on the chair and over the fence.
"I put one leg over it, the one that was good, threw my whole body over the fence," he said.
"Were you able to get over the fence?" the prosecutor asked.
"Yes, I got on top of that chair with my one leg and I just threw myself over it. I landed on the other side of it in a ditch," said Beltron, as images of the metal fence and the ditch were shown in the courtroom.
Beltron said he continued to hear gunshots as he crawled farther away and still believed the shooter was coming for him.
"I tried to stay quiet in the bushes, and then I heard four more gunshots," Beltron said.
RELATED: 'That's the guy': Survivor recalls shooting at Michael Keetley trial
As he crawled his way through the ditch he remembered he had his cell phone in his pocket, so he called the police and his ex-wife who lived nearby.
"I told her to hang on the line with me, don’t hang up, because I was already going blind, like passing out," he said. "I told her I couldn’t walk anymore, that I was just dragging myself through the ditch, and I asked her ‘can you come pick me up?’"
Beltron says he gave her directions to his location and as she got closer he could see her car.
"I said ‘I see you, I see you, I can’t get up, I’m gonna lift up my hand, and you’ll see me in the ditch,'" he said.
He says she pulled right up next to him, and he was able to get in the car. By that time he heard sirens as police and paramedics began to arrive. His ex-wife drove him back to the scene where paramedics began to treat him.
Prosecutors say the shooter was Michael Keetley, an ice cream truck driver who had been robbed and shot 11 months earlier. They say Keetley believed someone named "Creeper" was the one who shot him, and he was out for revenge.
They say he targeted the wrong home on that Thanksgiving Day – and that the six men he shot were all innocent. Two brothers, Juan and Sergio Guitron died, and four others were left with extensive injuries.
Keetley is charged with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder.
Prosecutors expect to rest their case Tuesday morning. The judge says he believes the jury will have the case by Friday.