Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Wonders How Routine Nightly Stroll Had Tragic End; Ronnie Wilson Sr. Was Walking His Dog When He Was Struck and Killed by a Police Cruiser Responding to a Call

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Wonders How Routine Nightly Stroll Had Tragic End; Ronnie Wilson Sr. Was Walking His Dog When He Was Struck and Killed by a Police Cruiser Responding to a Call

Article excerpt

Byline: JIM SCHOETTLER

Ronnie Wilson Sr. put on his black work pants and blue work shirt, said goodbye to his mother and walked out the door with Lady Beast.

It was a routine Wilson, 61, followed every night about 10 o'clock. The Jacksonville retiree would walk around his Brentwood neighborhood with his black pit bull, greeting friends who fondly called him Dad. Then he'd return home, perhaps watch a little TV and go to bed.

But on Tuesday night, neither Wilson nor his dog ever made it back.

Wilson was crossing North Pearl Street near his home on West 24th Street when a speeding police cruiser on an emergency call struck and killed him. Lady Beast remains missing.

Police said the car, driven by Officer Nicole McBroom, had its emergency lights and sirens on. It was the third in a line of four police cars responding to a report of shots being fired outside a convenience store eight blocks from the accident scene. The gunman was never found.

Dora West, Wilson's mother, said a neighbor came to her door to report that Wilson had been struck by the police car. After calling her granddaughter, West went to find her son. She ran into police officers, who kept her from traveling too far.

"I said, 'I've got see my baby. You all have got to let me see my baby,' " said West, 79.

But Wilson was covered up and his mother eventually returned home to a grief-stricken night that became a mournful morning. West recalled how her only child cooked for her and helped her get dressed for church on Sunday mornings.

"I got nobody else but him," West said as family members and friends wept around her. "That was my love, my true love. I'm going to miss my baby, but the Lord's going to let me live."

Ronnie Wilson Jr., 28, fondly recalled how his father helped teach him to hit a baseball at a nearby park. They first used a tee. Later, Wilson would toss the ball underhand to his boy. And then the overhand pitches came.

It was friendship and love that grew deeper as the son got older, always seeking out his father for companionship and advice he'd give on long walks.

"He was my best friend. I just loved him," Wilson said, tears streaking his face. …

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