NEW PORT RICHEY — The shots rang out three years ago just after 3 a.m. at Club Nocturnal.
Irvin Watts Jr. of Tarpon Springs, who had tried to break up a fight inside the after-hours club, died in his best friend's arms. Watts' pregnant girlfriend, who took cover under a pool table during the gunfire, heard the words "he's dead" over and over again.
John Quincy Singleton, who was accused of firing into the crowd, was arrested.
On Monday, Singleton, 23, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Watts, 28. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, which he will serve alongside the life sentence he received in January for injuring another man in a 2010 armed robbery in Holiday.
"It's a fair resolution, considering he'd already been sentenced to life," said Singleton's lawyer, Jorge Angulo. "He's a young guy that made poor decisions, but he took responsibility for it."
The argument that sparked the May 15, 2010, shooting was between some women. Someone threw a drink.
"If (there's) somebody from another town that don't know somebody," witness Gia Girtman said in a deposition, "they're going to mess with them. That's how it's always been."
The lights in the club came on, and the music stopped. The DJ asked for calm.
Regina Mathis was at the minibar behind the dance floor. She saw Watts get into the middle of the fight and break it up. Then she saw a side door open, and Watts got into an altercation with Singleton.
"And that's when shots (were) fired," Mathis said. "I don't know if (Singleton) really meant to shoot anyone intentionally, but shots (were) fired, and Irvin Watts got hit."
Another man, Craig Fowler, then 17, was injured.
Watts' mother, Laverne Watts, said her son was a family man and a member of Mount Hermon Missionary Baptist Church in Tarpon Springs. He loved music and was in a rap group called CBF. He was known to some by his rap name, Swerve. He coached his sons in football and liked to cut hair.
"He was helping them to make good grades in school, and he was keeping them into sports and keeping them in church," Laverne Watts said, noting that her grandsons are church ushers.
She said everything reminds her of her son and how much he loved his six kids: Izavion Watts, 11; Zyiel Watts, 11; Zyterrius Watts, 9; Haevin Watts, 6; Zion Watts, 4; and Irvin Watts III, 2.
"I'm still angry at (Singleton) for taking my son away from me and from his children," she said Monday. "But I'm glad I don't have to come to the courthouse anymore. I'm glad he admitted that he done this."
Contact Jon Silman at (727) 869-6229, [email protected] or @Jonsilman1 on Twitter.