Gainesville.com


Firefighter returns to work after shooting


By DEBORAH BALL

Sun staff writer
March 27. 2005 6:01AM

The case of an Alachua County firefighter who police say shot a Gainesville man, ultimately paralyzing him two weeks ago, is now in the hands of the State Attorney's Office.

Police say Alachua County firefighter Brian Minnich, 26, shot Baron Krevetski, 27, in the early morning hours of March 13 after the two argued over a woman's missing purse, according to a Gainesville Police report.

One bullet hit Krevetski's right inner thigh and a second bullet grazed his left arm and entered through the left side of his chest below his armpit, piercing both of his lungs and lodging in his spine, causing permanent paralysis from the waist down, said Krevetski's mother, Mary Jane Brunel.

As he lay in his hospital bed in the trauma unit at Shands at the University of Florida on Tuesday, the reality that he will never walk again was too much for Krevetski to bear.

"I just want to know why," Krevetski said as tears streamed down his face. "It's really surreal - this is someone who's supposed to save lives, but he shot me for no reason. I thought he was going to kill me."

The same day Krevetski spoke with The Sun, Minnich returned to work on administrative duty with Alachua County Fire Rescue until further notice, said Megan Crandall, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Minnich was arrested the night of the incident and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon with intent to do great bodily harm and was released from the Alachua County jail the next day after posting $20,000 bond.

Brunel said she is outraged that more serious charges were not brought against Minnich, adding that she feels the media and police are "glorifying" Minnich because he is a firefighter.

"I'm at a loss for words for what he (Minnich) has done to my son," Brunel said. "I just feel like he's shamed himself, his family and he can't turn back the pages of time to make my son whole again. No one deserves to have a handgun emptied on them for no reason."

But GPD Detective Michael Douglas said that the charges accurately fit the crime according to the statutes because there was no indication that the crime was premeditated - which is necessary to charge someone with attempted murder.

He also said alcohol played a role in the incident.

Minnich's defense attorney, Gloria Fletcher, said Saturday that she filed a written plea of not guilty last week for her client.

"We'd like a jury trial," Fletcher said. "The State Attorney's Office is still investigating the case and gathering evidence, so until we have all that information, we're not in a position to comment on anything at this point."

In 1998, Minnich was charged with aggravated battery but that case was later dropped, court records show.

It is unknown why the state dropped the charges.

The chain of events that led to the shooting began when Minnich, Rita Caswell and another unidentified woman dropped Krevetski off at his house at 318 NW 24th St. after they had all been drinking at local bars, according to reports.

Caswell, Minnich and the woman left Krevetski's home and went to another friend's house.

Caswell and Minnich later returned to look for the woman's missing purse. Caswell told police that the two men began arguing and that Minnich accused Krevetski of stealing the purse, according to the report.

Caswell told police she asked Minnich to go outside and he did and then Krevetski grabbed a clothes iron and tried to follow Minnich outside.

She also told police that she stopped Krevetski and placed the iron on the front porch, but Minnich later told police Krevetski had "thrown or swung" the iron at him and hit him on his chest.

Krevetski then grabbed an aluminum flashlight, walked back outside and began breaking both driver's side windows of Minnich's 1997 Ford Ranger as Minnich sat behind the steering wheel, Caswell told police.

That's when Minnich fired several shots at Krevetski, according to the report.

Minnich then called 911 and walked to the rear of the house where police later found him and took him into custody. After police read him his rights and he asked for a lawyer, Minnich said to officers, "I shot him," "How's the guy I shot?", "He's going to live, right?" according to the report.

Krevetski denied breaking Minnich's windows or threatening him and said that he went outside to help Minnich and Caswell look for the missing purse.

He also said that Minnich had waved the handgun around in the house prior to the shooting.

And as the investigation continues, Krevetski said his biggest fear is the road ahead of him now that he cannot use his legs.

"I'm scared," Krevetski said as he looked at his motionless legs. "I know it could have been worse, but I don't think I can ever forgive him."

Deborah Ball can be reached at (352) 374-5086 or balld@gvillesun.com.