Friend of Derby night murder victim told police dream trip was ' - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Friend of Derby night murder victim told police dream trip was 'tarnished in blood'

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Tyrone Thomas, Fatima Abu-Diab and Fahed Abu-Diab are charged with murder in the slaying of a Canadian man in town for the Kentucky Derby this year. Tyrone Thomas, Fatima Abu-Diab and Fahed Abu-Diab are charged with murder in the slaying of a Canadian man in town for the Kentucky Derby this year.
Scott Hunter (Family photo) Scott Hunter (Family photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Canadian resident Scott Hunter and his best friend, Robert Smith, were talking about their trip to Kentucky and how nice the walk back to their hotel was after a Derby night dinner on May 2, capping off their shared dream of attending the historic race for the first time.

Then, just a couple minutes from their hotel, two men approached them from behind and Smith felt something on his back, heard the zapping sound of a Tazer and ran, he told Louisville Metro Police, according to recently released court records.  When he looked back seconds later, Hunter had been shot.

“He was lying face down on the ground,” Smith said. “It happened so fast.”

Smith's interview with police was released in court records recently along with interviews with the defendants, pictures and hundreds of pages of documents.

Fahed Abu-Diab, his sister Fatima Abu-Diab and her boyfriend, Tyrone Thomas Jr., were arrested for several robberies over Derby weekend and the murder of Hunter, 49. Investigators say those robberies involved 12 victims, most of them tourists. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The three defendants and two others charged in the robberies were in Jefferson Circuit Court on Thursday for a pre-trial hearing. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Smith, from British Columbia, told police he and Hunter had been in Louisville for a few days, spending time at the track and visiting the Louisville Slugger Museum and Muhammad Ali Center. After dinner on Derby night, they were enjoying a walk back to their hotel, admiring the full moon, not thinking about any possible dangers, Smith said.

“We were talking about how the whole trip was amazing … and the next thing you know my buddy is face down, dead,” Smith said, his voice sometimes choking with emotion in his interviews with police. “We went to something that we thought was spectacular and now it’s been tarnished with blood.”

Bystanders and police were on the scene, in the 600 block of Phillips Lane, within a minute.

Fahed Abu-Diab admitted to police that he and Thomas had robbed multiple people over the Derby weekend. Thomas was armed with a gun while he had a Tazer, Abu-Diab said.

But Abu-Diab said he tried to talk Thomas out of robbing Hunter and Smith, arguing the area was too crowded. He said he walked behind Thomas, only flashing his Tazer when the robbery turned into an altercation.

“What happened last night was him, all him, not me,” Abu-Diab said. He told police Hunter and Thomas got into a struggle during the robbery, and Thomas then fired his weapon.

Police expressed doubt about Abu-Diab's story, telling him he had admitted being complicit in every other robbery.

Thomas initially told police he was home with Fatima Abu-Diab the night of the murder. Later, after police told him they had interviewed Fatima, Thomas said he wanted an attorney and declined to speak further with investigators. An attorney for Thomas declined to comment.

In her interview with police, Fatima Abu-Diab said she stayed in the vehicle, and Thomas told her he shot Hunter in self-defense.

“That dude was big and was really attacking him, and that’s the only reason why he shot him,” Fatima said. “He was protecting himself.”

Smith told police the entire robbery and shooting lasted only seconds, and he didn’t believe Hunter fought with his attacker.

Hunter was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:23 p.m. of multiple gunshot wounds.

Hunter owned a coffee shop and enjoyed traveling, having been to Mount Everest, India and backpacked across South America alone for six months, according to the Toronto Star.

He also ran Ironman triathlons and was into cycling and boxing, the newspaper reported.

Smith told police the two men were making plans on how to celebrate Hunter’s upcoming 50th birthday.

“Could have just has easily been me too,” Smith said of the shooting. “I don’t know why it took Scotty.”

Previous: Court documents detail violent crime spree by suspects in Derby Day murder

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