A 911 call released Tuesday indicates Hugo Selva may have tried to turn himself in to West Palm Beach police in the hours before authorities say he fatally shot his girlfriend, caused multiple crashes on Interstate 95 and then was shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy last week.
The phone call, from a man claiming to be Selva, came to city dispatchers Feb. 6, soon after Charles Brown Jr. was shot outside the Dutchman Motor Lodge on South Dixie Highway.
“I did it,” the man on the line told the dispatcher. “I was just scared. I operated out of fear. I wasn’t showing love.”
“Can you tell me what happened?” the dispatcher asked on the call obtained by The Palm Beach Post Tuesday. A few seconds of silence passed. “Or would you rather talk to a detective?”
“I’d rather talk to a detective,” the caller replied. He told the dispatcher he was armed.
He never did.
The morning after the 911 call, authorities say, Selva went on to shoot at least two other people, including his girlfriend, Nicole Novak.
First, police said, Selva shot 21-year-old Anthony Fonti in Boynton Beach at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday. Fonti survived, but his connection to Selva remains unclear. Boynton Beach police said they are still working to “100 percent confirm the connection.”
At 2:45 a.m., Edwin Milkevic was found fatally shot in his crashed car on southbound I-95 near Yamato Road. As of Tuesday afternoon, no law-enforcement agency has connected this shooting to Selva, but Boca Raton police said they are investigating to see if he was involved.
At about 9 a.m., Selva shot and killed Novak at a Lake Worth shopping plaza on Dixie Highway near the Lantana town limits, Palm Beach County sheriff’s authorities said. Selva, 22, then shoved her into his car and sped down Interstate 95 as the morning rush hour was ending.
But Selva drove in the wrong direction, headed south on northbound I-95, and caused three head-on crashes before his vehicle came to a stop. Florida Highway Patrol officers tried to subdue Selva with a Taser but it didn’t work, according to authorities. Connor Haugh, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy, then shot and killed Selva.
As the scene unfolded on I-95, causing a shutdown of the northbound lanes between Boynton Beach and Lake Worth for much of the day, West Palm Beach police investigated the shooting from the afternoon before. Brown, the 32-year-old man shot outside the motel, picked Selva out of a photo lineup as the gunman, but police said he was otherwise uncooperative.
In the 911 call, the man claiming to be Selva said he was in Delray Beach and just wanted to “tell you the truth of what happened” on Wilder Street and Dixie Highway, the motel’s address.
Selva’s grandmother lives in Delray Beach, but it’s unclear if he was staying with her at the time. Court documents from 2016 show Selva threatened to kill her and Selva’s sister several times.
"I am in fear for my life as I am 77 years old and have health issues," wrote Marilyn Selva. "Hugo's behavior and threats are escalating. He has become more demanding and forceful."
But in the phone call to dispatchers on Feb. 6, Selva said he was in shock about the shooting he said he committed.
“I’m just scared,” he said. “I have the mother of my child (with me) and I’m just scared.”
In a West Palm Beach search warrant, drugs–including Xanax in the TV stand dresser, three bags of marijuana in a red Folgers coffee container, along with several bags of white and gray powder–were found throughout room 109 of the Dutchman Motor Lodge where Brown was staying.
An unidentifed woman also called 911 to report the shooting on Feb. 6. She said she and others were putting pressure on Brown’s wound.
The woman asked Brown if he knew the man who shot him and he replied no.
Then, she asked if the shooter was in a car or on foot. He said he wasn’t sure, but thought possibly a car.
Selva was suspected in the shooting since at least the afternoon of Feb. 6, according to West Palm Beach police. Surveillance-camera footage from the scene and the license plate of the getaway car linked Selva to the scene, according to Sgt. Dave Lefont, West Palm Beach spokesman said.
After a dispatcher called Selva back to say a detective could not speak with him at the time, she asked if he would come to the police station to talk with someone there. Selva told the dispatcher he’d drive his rental car to police headquarters in downtown West Palm Beach, but he never did.
Police sent a bulletin around to local law-enforcement agencies warning them to be on the lookout for the 22-year-old. But Lefont said investigators were not able to “ping” Selva’s phone to locate him that night or the next morning because the cellphone was off.