ST. PETERSBURG -— On Thursday, 26-year-old Jason Edward McDonald stopped by his childhood home in Pinellas Park and mopped his mother's floor.
Before dawn Friday, he lay across the curb of 34th Street South with gunshot wounds to his upper body. McDonald had become this year's eighth homicide in St. Petersburg.
"The boy I gave birth to came by because I have health problems and mopped my floor," said his mother, Linda McDonald Comer, 49. "This is what my son did before somebody took a gun out and shot him."
St. Petersburg police released little information on the slaying, which happened about 5:15 a.m. in front of the Inn on the Hill, located at 274 34th St. S.
Witnesses in the parking lot said that two men were arguing. Then, shots.
McDonald's shooting is the latest in a rash of homicides in St. Petersburg. Last year at this time, two people had been killed. After Friday's homicide, the total is eight.
But police said that killings often happen in cycles, even if they're unrelated, and it's too early in the year to see a trend in the numbers. There were 26 homicides in all last year.
"There's no common denominator that connects any of them," police spokesman Bill Proffitt said.
McDonald's mother said she didn't know why her son was at the motel early Friday. But she blames drugs for his death.
McDonald was released from prison in January after serving time on cocaine charges. He returned to the Pinellas Park home where he grew up.
There, he spent time with childhood friends who encouraged him to stay away from drugs. He went bowling with his sister and her friends, Comer said.
But three weeks later, he left for a job interview and never came back. Comer said she knew he was back on drugs because he always stayed away when he used. He stopped by the house twice since.
Comer told him that turning back to drugs was a mistake, but it wasn't too late to start over.
"It's not the first, it's not the last," Comer said she thought at the time. "Obviously, it is the last."
Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report. Stephanie Garry can be reached at (727) 892-2374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.