Escambia County

Turner: “Gonzalez tried to ‘hit’ me”

August 13, 2009

“Gonzalez tried to ‘hit’ me,” says Mark Turner, Gulf Breeze resident and former used car dealer.

That’s how our conversation began. I had contacted Turner after someone had sent me a tip about his December 2007 home break-in and his website.

We had a copy of the incident report filed by Santa Rosa County Deputy Stephen Clark. The person described as the suspect didn’t fit that of Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. or anyone associated with the case­–other than the unknown trespasser was a white male. So I was curious how this had anything to do with the Billings case.

“The description in the is not what I told the deputy,” says Turner. “It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I even saw a copy of the report. I told the deputy the suspect was clean-cut and moved like he was in the military. The officer wrote ‘well-groomed.’”

When asked about the burglar’s height –which is listed at six feet in the report­, Turner admits everything happened so fast that he was only guessing about the height. Gonzalez is listed at 5’6” in his arrest report for the Billings’ murders.

“When they showed on television the mug shot of Patrick Gonzalez, I knew that was who tried to break into our house while we were in it,” says Turner. “I saw his face as he drove away. I’m convinced that he was there to kill me.”

The attempted burglary and possible hit happened late the evening of Dec. 16, 2007. Turner was lying on the bed in his bedroom. He had fallen asleep with the window open, watching television with one of his children.

His wife was awake in another part of house and heard the garage door open. She went outside to see if her son was home. She noticed a plastic chair inside the garage had been moved and when she checked her car, it was unlocked. She always locked her car.

She went back into the house to wake her husband, who grabbed a bottle off his wet bar and headed towards his interior door that opened into the garage.

As he grabbed the door knob, he felt it turning. Turner pulled the door open and shocked the intruder, who yelled “Wrong house” and bolted out of the garage towards a Blue Ford Explorer.

“He was out of the garage in two steps,” says Turner. “My adrenalin was pumping and I chased after him.”

Turner grabbed the door handle on the driver’s side of the Explorer, but wasn’t able to open it. He smashed the bottle on the window trying to break the glass. The Explorer sped off.

“I am now certain that was Patrick Gonzalez,” says Turner. “He did have something in his hand as he was running from the garage. My wife thinks it was a small black box.”

Turner is involved with a large civil case and is appealing a conviction on money laundering. He believes that the break-in is tied to those cases.

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