LARGO — They pulled up to the Rainbow Food Mart on a warm Tuesday morning. Three women got out. A fourth waited in the driver's seat with a small child in the back. It was barely 10:30 a.m. It was just a quick trip to the store.
Then it turned into an ambush.
A man in a black SUV aimed a 9mm semiautomatic pistol at the women and opened fire, Largo police said. The woman in the car sped away as the gun barked again and again. Two of the women dashed into the store for cover.
But Annie Marie Conyers, 26, didn't make it. The Clearwater woman was shot in the lower torso. She died hours later.
The man behind the trigger, Largo police said, was Larry Joe Jerry Jr., a 300-pound convict with a long history of arrests for drugs and violence — including domestic violence.
But Conyers was not his target, said the suspect's half-sister, Malaya Pelham. The two women who escaped into the store were.
But that didn't stop Jerry from ambushing them with two family members in the line of fire, Pelham said. Another half-sister was the driver who fled, and a bullet penetrated the child's car seat and just missed his 1-year-old niece, Pelham said.
"He's not scared of nothing," Pelham said. "That's why I'm scared of him, because I know how my brother is. He's crazy."
Jerry, 26, quickly became the target of a dragnet of Pinellas County. He is wanted on one charge of murder and four counts of attempted murder.
Jerry, who police said is armed and dangerous, was still on the loose Tuesday night. But Pelham said she doesn't expect her brother to come in peacefully.
"I already know he's going to die," she said, "because he's going to shoot back."
• • •
The shooting took place at Rainbow Food Mart at 2575 East Bay Drive. Cesarina Stanganelli, owner of Cesarina Deli and Bakery in the same strip mall, said a customer heard the gunshots.
"He said, 'Lock the door, lock the door,' because we didn't know what was going on," she said. "It was very scary."
No one else was injured in the shooting. Largo police did not identify any of the other people involved.
Jerry ambushed the women from a rented black 2011 Ford Edge SUV, police said, and sped off after the shooting. The vehicle was found Tuesday night in Clearwater, police said, near Duncan Avenue and Marion Street.
Investigators believe Jerry acted alone. Police would not comment on his motives but said his intentions were clear.
"It was not a random act," said Largo police Lt. Mike Loux.
• • •
But Pelham said she knew what motivated her brother: his tangled — and often violent — relationship with the mother of his 2-year-old daughter. Jerry targeted the two unidentified women because he believed they were interfering in his relationship with the mother of his child, the sister said.
"I guess his baby mama told him a lie," said Pelham, 22, "and he went after the girls."
Conyers was a friend of the targeted women, Pelham said.
Jerry has repeatedly targeted the mother of his child as well, according to Pinellas records, racking up nine battery arrests in four years. In 2007 his girlfriend was seven months pregnant when deputies said he grabbed her by the throat and pummeled her face. He attacked her twice in 2008, reports show, once after his girlfriend got a call that Jerry was "playing around" on her.
"(Defendant) threatened to kill off her friends if she called the police," a sheriff's deputy wrote in a 2008 arrest report.
But Jerry has been convicted of only three misdemeanor battery charges. He received probation and counseling.
• • •
The U.S. Marshals, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and police agencies from Largo, Clearwater and Tarpon Springs all joined the search on Tuesday.
They descended upon two locations in particular: Pinellas deputies temporarily shut down a neighborhood near 3691 137th Ave. N in an unincorporated part of the county; Clearwater police also locked down the Clearwater Center nursing home at 1270 Turner St. That was just a precaution, police said.
Jerry wasn't found in the neighborhood, and police did not explain the nursing home's connection to the case.
Loux said law enforcement agencies were searching several Pinellas locations that Jerry is known to frequent.
• • •
Jerry is described as a 5-foot-10 black man weighing up to 300 pounds. He may also have teeth fitted with gold and jewelry.
He was sentenced to 13 months in prison in 2003 for possession of cocaine with intent to sell. He is also wanted on outstanding arrest warrants for fleeing and eluding and driving with a license that was suspended or revoked.
Jerry himself was the victim of a shooting in July. He was shot in the right shoulder in Clearwater by a man he described only as "Kenny." Clearwater police did not find a suspect at the time and did not update their investigation Tuesday.
Pelham said her 1-year-old niece could have been the second life claimed by a bullet on Tuesday:
"It was like an inch away from killing her."
Rita Farlow can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4157. Times researcher Caryn Baird and staff writers Dominick Tao and Luis Perez contributed to this report.