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Brett Hayes has close encounter with turnpike gunman

      A quiet, leisurely off day for Marlins catcher Brett Hayes took a dramatic and frightening turn a few hours ago when he came within close proximity of the Florida turnpike gunman suspected of shooting two law enforcement officers.

      "It was pretty scary, to be honest with you," Hayes said.

      HayesHayes and his wife were driving to a birthday party about 6 p.m. when traffic came to a sudden standstill on the northbound side of the turnpike near the Hollywood Boulevard exit. Hayes said that, moments later, a man appeared from out of the pouring rain, walking next to the concrete barrier in the center median.

      His first reaction: "Why is a man walking down the turnpike?"

      But then, to the catcher's shock, he noticed that the man was carrying a gun.

       “He and I made eye contact, and he looked like he was up to no good,” Hayes said. “Something was very wrong. I just had a very bad feeling. My wife and I were in shock. I told her ‘Do not look at him.’ He was walking like he was walking down the street. It was really creepy. but his face....it was pretty scary to be honest with you.”

        Shortly after the man passed their car, Hayes said a law enforcement officer wearing a bulletproof vest came walking past with gun drawn. After traffic began moving, Hayes said he turned on the radio and heard that officers had been shot.

       “My wife and I said a big, long prayer for them,” Hayes said. “We heard later that they were going to be all right. What a blessing.”

       The officers were taken to the hospital. Both will survive, according to reports. The gunman took his own life.