Homeless man beaten with axe handle

A witness cornered suspect until cops arrived

TARPON SRPINGS, Fla. - When Marcus Tucker heard the noise, he instinctively looked up to see where it was coming from.

"It sounded like someone thumping on a tree with a stick," Tucker said.

But this wasn't wood on wood.  It was wood against a man's skull.

"He hit him again," Tucker said.  "He hit him so hard it sounded like someone hit a stick against a tree.  That's how loud it was."

What Tucker saw was a one-sided fight between two homeless men.  It happened outside the EZ Stop N Shop store on S. Walton Avenue in Tarpon Springs.  Tucker was working on friend's car when he said he watched 49-year old James Knott raise a three-foot axe handle over his head, and swing it down on the victim's head.

Brian Kennedy, 55, was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.  Known as "Buzz" to convenient store patrons, Kennedy is regarded as a nice guy down on his luck.  Don King was horrified to find him lying in front of the ice freezer outside the store.

"A lot of blood everywhere," King said.  "He was trying to get up, and it was just profusely coming out of his head," he said.  King helped Kennedy stay on the ground until paramedics arrived.

It was Tucker who broke up the fight.  After seeing Kennedy struck in the head, he yelled out to the suspect.  That's when Knott took off behind the store.  

Tucker was able to chase Knott behind The Florida Capital Bank down the street, cornering him until sheriff's deputies arrived.

Knott was taken to the Pinellas County Jail and charged with attempted murder.  Investigators suspect alcohol was a factor in the incident.

When asked why he decided to chase the suspect, Tucker said he couldn't sit and do nothing while an assault was under way.

"I couldn't do that," he said.  "It's not within me to do that."

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