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Kidnap victim wrests gun, kills one abductor, wounds another

OLDSMAR — Twenty-year-old Gregory Longley learned to shoot a gun when he was 6.

"He's not one to scare easy," Robert Longley said of his son. "He wasn't raised to be scared."

Late Sunday night in Oldsmar, the younger Longley was kidnapped at gunpoint, Pinellas sheriff's deputies said. But he snatched the weapon and shot two attackers, killing one of them before fleeing, deputies said.

According to the deputies, the kidnapping occurred at 11 p.m. at the Aday Motel at 501 Bayview Blvd. The shooting happened in a car moments later, killing Javon Strange, 18.

Longley was not hurt. His teenage attackers had been searching for another man in a dispute over stolen coins when they confronted Longley at the motel and forced him into a white 2000 Chevrolet Malibu, deputies said.

The other two suspects were identified as Abdusbasiyr A. Blake, 18, and Juan Carlos Morales, 17. The three men "allegedly kidnapped the victim in hopes that he could lead them to their original target," deputies said.

Longley and Strange sat in the back seat, where Strange was armed with a gun, deputies said. But Strange lowered the gun to his lap to begin text messaging, and Longley grabbed the weapon, deputies said.

First Longley shot Strange, deputies said. Then he shot Morales, who was sitting in the front passenger seat.

He ordered Blake, who was driving, to stop the car.

Longley got out and dialed 911, deputies said.

Blake drove the wounded men to a McDonald's at 4085 Tampa Road, the deputies said. Restaurant employees also called 911.

Paramedics arrived, and Strange was pronounced dead at the scene.

Morales was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa with injuries that weren't life-threatening, said Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecelia Barreda. The hospital would not release Morales' condition because he is a minor.

Blake was arrested and charged with armed kidnapping and second-degree murder, deputies said.

Deputies said they recovered two weapons: the handgun that Longley took from Strange and a second handgun that authorities say Blake threw out a window.

Grew up with guns

Monday morning, at a Tampa address listed as Longley's home, a woman who identified herself as his mother declined to speak to a reporter.

Longley's father lives in Tennessee. A retired forensic photographer for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he said his son was "raised with guns, raised to shoot from 6 on." The father collected guns and regularly took his kids hunting.

He plans to travel to Florida today to be with his son. The two had not yet spoken as of Monday night.

"He did about what I'd have done … if I were threatened like that," Longley said in a telephone interview. "I'm thankful he was familiar with guns so he was able to defend himself."

A Vietnam veteran, Longley said he knows how it feels to take a life. "It takes a while to get over that," he said. "You don't ever feel good about it."

Back at the motel, assistant manager Archie Viray, 54, said the younger Longley had been visiting two friends who were staying in Room 5. Viray was asleep when the incident unfolded but later learned that Longley was sitting outside on stairs when approached and forced into the car at gunpoint.

Viray said the motel is generally quiet. "Nothing happens here," he said.

Teens had records

The teens named suspects in the kidnapping all have prior arrests.

Blake was charged with battery in September 2006. Morales, one of the two Longley shot, was charged with marijuana possession in May 2007.

Strange, who died, was charged with marijuana possession in May 2007, kidnapping and battery involving domestic violence in October 2007, and domestic violence battery again this year.

His sister, 33-year-old Casshena Anderson of St. Petersburg, said Strange wasn't a bad kid — he just got mixed up in the wrong crowd. On Monday, she and his uncle visited Strange's Habana Avenue apartment, wading through the clutter of video games, clothes, fast-food containers and DVDs.

Her brother was going to night school, she said, and wanted to be an electrician. Unemployed, he lived off settlement money from an accident at 4, when he was hit by a car, she said.

He was no longer dating the girl who accused him of battery, Anderson said.

"Javon, he really wasn't a troublemaker. Javon was more of a follower," Anderson said.

Family puzzled

Anderson and the uncle, 35-year-old Andre Murray, said they think someone ransacked Strange's apartment after the shooting. As they packed his strewn clothes and belongings into garbage bags to give to Strange's grandmother, they said they'd never seen it so messy.

Murray guessed that Strange fell asleep most nights playing video games on the couch. He had no bed. An unopened pouch of peanut butter crackers sat on the coffee table; a squashed cigarette pack on the floor.

Anderson can't figure out what happened Sunday night. She's reluctant to believe Strange and his friends set out to kidnap someone. If so, she wonders, why let the man ride unrestrained in the back seat? She said she didn't think Strange had ever even used a gun. She's still hoping to get the whole story from authorities.

"It's a shock," she said. "To me, I would've figured Javon would've gotten in some trouble, but not to where someone would take his life."

Times staff writer Casey Cora contributed to this report. Kim Wilmath can be reached at (813) 2263386.

Kidnap victim wrests gun, kills one abductor, wounds another 09/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 2:34pm]

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