Two months after a Gulfport New Horizon’s band member was gunned down following a night rehearsal with the Pinellas Park Civic Orchestra at the city’s Performing Arts Center (PAC), police confirmed on Thursday, April 12 a suspect in her killing was being sought in Alabama. When law enforcement officials tried to make an arrest later that night, a police vehicle chase ensued ending with the suspect escaping on foot. On Friday, April 13 after a traffic stop, another vehicle chase occurred in Pennsylvania and the suspect was killed during an officer-involved shooting.
Dead is Siddeeq Ma’Shooq, 45, also known as Steven Brooks, of St. Petersburg.
Brooks was a tenant of Caroline Morton-Hicks, 59, of St. Petersburg who was an accomplished and beloved trombone player with the local band along with other music groups in Pinellas County.
She was also president of FRIBRI, Inc., a Florida corporation owning 15 residential properties in St. Petersburg.
After her death on February 12, Pinellas County court records show that her heir, who is now president of the business, served Brooks with a three-day pay notice on March 22 for $1,350 representing unpaid rent for February and March, not including late fees or additional charges. Formal eviction paperwork was served on his door on April 3. By April 10, the court approved a default judgment in favor of the rental company because Brooks had refused to pay his back rent and did not file required legal paperwork.
On March 28, during the legal proceedings over the rent issue, Florida law enforcement officials issued a warrant for Brooks’ arrest on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the shooting death of Mortin-Hicks.
At the time, it was believed by law enforcement that Brooks was living with his estranged girlfriend in Madison County, Alabama, according to Captain Joseph D. Ruggery, commander of Troop B of the Pennsylvania state police.
By the night of April 11 at approximately 9:30 p.m., U.S. marshals and members of the Madison County SWAT team converged on the residence where Brooks was staying and tried to negotiate his surrender, which he refused, said Ruggery.
Brooks then fled in an unknown vehicle and “initiated a high-speed vehicle pursuit” through the Harvest, Alabama area, first driving the sedan into a swamp and then fleeing on foot into a heavily wooded area, said Ruggery. Officers set up a perimeter, but Brooks evaded capture. Harvest is a small town located north of Huntsville in northern Alabama.
Subsequently and eight miles from where he was last seen, Brooks stole a white Chevrolet Silverado with an Alabama registration, said Ruggery.
Nearly 26 hours later, during the morning of Friday, April 13, Brooks was seen driving erratically on I-70 in Washington County, in southwest Pennsylvania by two state troopers on routine patrol who thought he might be impaired by drugs or alcohol.
When Brooks was pulled over by the troopers, they that did not know he was wanted in Florida as a suspect in the murder of Morton-Hicks.
During the traffic stop, Brooks fled the scene in the Silverado and began driving at high speed in the wrong direction on the interstate. The two troopers gave chase in their vehicle.
When Brooks attempted to cross the grassy median to enter the other side of the interstate with the flow of traffic, he crashed into a bridge abutment near I-79 in the area of South Strabane and fled his disabled vehicle on foot, said Ruggery. Brooks then ran down a steep embankment and onto a highway-access ramp below.
The two troopers exited their vehicle and gave pursuit. They could also see Brooks was armed with a handgun.
The troopers gave Brooks multiple verbal commands to show his hands and drop his weapon. He refused, said Ruggery. When he turned toward the troopers while armed, the foot chase ended with an officer-involved shooting. Both troopers fired multiple rounds from their department-issued 45-calibur handguns and Brooks was hit several times before he returned their fire.
Brooks died at the scene before the troopers or emergency medical services personnel could render any treatment, said Ruggery.
Later, the troopers discovered that Brooks was wanted for murder in Florida.
On Friday, April 13, Ruggery said in a press conference the two troopers involved in the shooting were unharmed and are not being named at this time. Following standard protocol, both troopers are also on administrative duty pending a state attorney’s office and internal investigation of the shooting.
Brooks was in possession of a 40-calibur Beretta handgun loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition that was reported stolen in Florida in 2014, said Ruggery.
On Friday, Brooks’ older sister, Latonja Brooks, 50, told the Tampa Bay Times, “He didn’t want to go back to prison. He should have turned himself in, not going and shooting, suicide by cops.”
Following the death of Brooks, Pinellas Park Police Sergeant Michael Lynch, the department’s public information officer, held a press conference and released a statement on Friday detailing that the additional information in the case should “bring some closure to the investigation and to Morton-Hicks’ family.”
In an exclusive interview with the Gabber in February, Joe Murphy, clarinet player and publicity chairperson for the New Horizons Band, said, Morton-Hicks “loved the band. She was a very accomplished trombone player.” Often, “she would hold rehearsals for small groups at her house.”
Morton-Hicks, originally from Weston-super-Mare, England, joined the New Horizons Band about 10 years ago when it was located at Eckerd College, said Mike Wilson, tuba player and member of the board of directors.
The band relocated to Gulfport in 2016.
“She was just a fun, sweet woman,” Wilson told the Gabber in February.
Pippa Francq, a clarinet player for New Horizons, told the Gabber in February, “She was the heart and soul of our trombone section. She was also an outdoorswoman, a kayaker and camper. She had a great sense of humor and was outspoken. She will be sorely missed.”