News Releases are to be used for informational purposes only. Information provided should not be relied upon for any type of legal action.

Man Arrested for Dog Park Shooting

For Immediate Release : Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Release Number: 24-52



Man Arrested for Dog Park Shooting

UPDATE: March 8, 2024

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has arrested a Tampa man for murder after a deadly shooting at a dog park.

On February 2, 2024, just before 8 a.m., deputies responded to the West Dog Park in the Egypt Lake-Leto area for reports of a shooting. Once on scene, they located John Walter Lay, 52, who had been shot. 

Immediately, deputies performed life-saving measures, but Lay was pronounced deceased at a local hospital. 

On scene, deputies also came into contact with Gerald Declan Radford, 65. Radford had called 911 after the shooting, claiming he was acting in self-defense. Radford remained at the scene and spoke with deputies. At the time of the incident, deputies did not have enough evidence to indicate that Radford was not acting in self-defense. 

"This case is an example of our detectives' commitment to seeking justice and uncovering the truth," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "They did not let those initial statements derail them from staying focused on this investigation. Seeking answers for victims and their loved ones is not just important—it's imperative. Our detectives demonstrated unparalleled dedication and determination to meticulously uncover the truth and ensure that justice is brought to light."

In the weeks that followed the deadly shooting, detectives worked diligently, searching for video connected to this incident, speaking with those who are familiar with the men involved and analyzing all evidence. HCSO then met with the State Attorney's Office to present them with the totality of what the investigation uncovered and discuss potential charges.

The State Attorney's Office has approved charging Radford with Second Degree Murder with an enhancement for a hate crime. 

"After analyzing the evidence, it was clear that this man acted from hatred within his heart," said Sheriff Chronister. "A hatred that will not be tolerated within our strong and diverse community. Thank you to State Attorney Suzy Lopez for allowing our detectives the time needed to conduct a thorough investigation. We hope the arrest brings some peace to the family of a man taken from us too soon."

Radford was arrested on Friday, March 8, 2024 at 1:50 p.m., and is being brought to the Orient Road Jail for booking. 

Sheriff Chronister will be available at 3:30 p.m., at the SOC in Ybor City for media interviews. Please RSVP to the Public Affairs Office at

The Public Affairs Office will send an updated press release with Radford's booking photo once his intake process is complete.