Sunday, December 17, 2017
Public safety

Family: Tampa double killing started with knife threat

TAMPA — It started with a knife and ended with a gun.

That's according to the family of one of the two people shot and killed Saturday night in what Tampa police describe as a neighborhood feud.

Police said Juan Molina, 45, of 2311 E 110th Ave., shot and killed neighbors Erica White, 42, a mother of five, and Percy Basden, 53, after an argument. Molina faces two counts of second-degree murder and aggravated assault.

White's mother, Patricia White, said Monday the weekend's dispute started when Molina's son, Juan C. Molina Fernandez, 25, threatened Erica White's sons, Deanio, 17, and Zion, 9, with a knife earlier Saturday as they walked to a nearby park to play basketball.

Erica White, who lived on E Liberty Street one street away from Molina, walked over to discuss the incident with Molina Fernandez's mother, Patricia White said.

But Molina Fernandez's father shot and killed Erica White in the street in front of his house, police said.

"That man came out shooting," Patricia White said in an interview at the Liberty Street home as her family made funeral arrangements. "It's a shooting for nothing, just for nothing."

Patricia White said she did not know why Molina Fernandez had threatened the two sons.

Molina Fernandez, who records show had worked in construction, was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was released Sunday on $2,000 bail.

In 2011, Molina Fernandez pleaded guilty to charges that included robbery, burglary, possession of cocaine with the intent to sell and petty theft, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Hillsborough County court records. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation.

On Monday, two Tampa police cruisers stood guard outside the Molina home. Officers said someone from the residence called for protection from neighbors as they moved belongings out of the house.

Three people at the home declined to comment.

Police have not released details of the neighborhood feud they say led up to the shooting.

Similarly unclear is why the home at 2304 E 110th Ave. was also targeted.

Police said Molina, after killing White, fired a shot through the front door there, killing Basden. Then Molina, police said, tried to get inside through a window but was stopped when Basden's adult stepson shot him in the face.

Molina underwent surgery at Tampa General Hospital, but is expected to survive, police said. Nobody answered the door Monday at Basden's home.

Patricia White said she was unaware of any bad blood between her daughter and the Molina family. Erica White loved children, the mother said, and worked at a Tampa day care.

"She was a wonderful person," said Patricia White. "She died trying to protect her sons. She was in her right to go talk to (Molina Fernandez's) mother."

She shook her head when she heard someone at the Molina home had called police for protection Monday.

"I don't know what they're afraid of," White said. "Nobody around here wants to mess with them."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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