Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Public safety

Man robbed, severely beaten in St. Petersburg's Williams Park

ST. PETERSBURG — The son of a prominent community activist faces an attempted homicide charge in connection with the severe beating and robbery of a man in Williams Park on Saturday morning.

Just before 9 a.m. police were called to the park, 350 Second Ave. N, about an injured man on the ground. They found him with severe upper body injuries and took him to Bayfront Medical Center.

Police arrested 39-year-old Watson L. Haynes III, who also is accused of taking the man's backpack, police said, and faces a strong-arm robbery charge.

It was unclear what prompted the attack. Police continue to investigate.

Haynes is the son of Watson Haynes II, a longtime St. Petersburg community activist and president of the Pinellas County Urban League.

Reached at his home Saturday, the elder Haynes, 59, was shocked at news of his son's arrest.

The younger Haynes has battled bipolar disorder and other mental health problems for more than 20 years, leading to stints in jail and in mental health facilities, his father said.

Court records show that Haynes has racked up numerous arrests dating back to the mid 1990s. The charges range from trespassing to unarmed robbery. His latest arrest came last month on a felony battery charge.

"I've done everything possible to try to get him help," the elder Haynes said. "I do the best I can, but he's an adult."

Haynes last saw his son on Friday night, he said, when his son came to visit him at his St. Petersburg home. The son complained about someone taking some of his belongings and not returning them, the father said.

"I know he was frustrated because of that," the elder Haynes said.

Later in the evening, the father gave his son a ride to a convenience store near Williams Park. It was the last time he saw him.

The younger Haynes, whose last known address is 1400 Fourth St. S, was held in jail without bail.

Times news researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Dan Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8321. Kim Wilmath can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3337.

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