77-Year-Old Gay Man Drives Into FL Pride Parade, Killing One, Accused By Mayor Of Terrorism

Photo: Fox 35 
Wilton Manor Pride parade crash

Following this weekend’s tragic events at the Stonewall Pride parade near Miami, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis decided to become an investigator.

As an eyewitness to the event, Trantalis let his fear get the better of him, issuing a statement in which he theorized that the crash was a "terrorist attack," specifically designed to hit U.S. Rep. Debbie Wassermann Schultz, who was also in attendance and who's car was missed "by inches."

“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” Trantalis told Local 10 News before having spoken with law enforcement about their investigation. “This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate, it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people.”

However, the official Investigation has since revealed that this was not a terrorist attack, but a deeply tragic accident.

The reality of the situation is heartbreaking.

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Fred Johnson Jr., 77 years old, was excited to participate in the Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors, Florida.

This parade not only celebrated the LGBTQIA+ human rights movement but also honored the Stonewall Inn riots that started Pride as we know it.

The parade draws in an audience of about 35,000 spectators annually.

Due to leg problems, Johnson, a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men Chorus, was driving behind members of the choir who were his long-time friends.

As Johnson waited in line for the parade to begin, a fellow parade participant asked him to move his truck up a little bit.

As he started his truck, his foot reportedly became stuck underneath the brake, causing him to panic and push down on the gas pedal, accelerating the vehicle forward.

In doing so, Johnson injured three of his friends — James Fahy, 75, Jerry Vroegh, 67, and Gary Keating, 69 — before ending up in a fence nearby.

Following the accident, Fahy and Vroegh were both taken to Broward Health Medical Center.

Sadly, Fahy succumbed to his injuries sustained in the accident and died. Vroegh had minor injuries and was released Monday.

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In a statement to the press, Johnson apologized, saying, “This was a horrible accident and I offer my sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event."

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"I love my Chorus family and the community and would never do anything to intentionally harm anyone," he continued. "Please know that I hold my fellow Chorus member, Jim Fahy, in my heart forever and offer my condolences to his friends and family.”

Mayor Trantalis walked back his earlier statements.

"I regret the fact that I said it was a terrorist attack because we found that it was not, but I don’t regret my feelings. I don’t regret that I felt terrorized by someone who plowed through the crowd,” he said.

He told Local 10 News that the focus should be less on him, and more on Johnson.

“Let’s focus on what really happened, and what happened was that someone was killed,” Mayor Trantalis said. “So the apology goes to him and his family and his friends and the people that knew him. That’s where the apology needs to come from. The apology needs to come from the person who perpetrated this act, OK? You know, it’s not about Dean Trantalis. It’s about what really happened and we need to focus on that.”

We can only hope that Johnson and everyone involved can heal from this tragic accident, and it serves as a reminder to avoid jumping to conclusions.

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La’Shawnté Burgess is a freelance writer for YourTango that writes entertainment and news articles.