ST. PETERSBURG — A 27-year-old man recently released from prison for armed burglary was shot dead Thursday morning during what police called a "home-invasion homicide with illegal drug overtones."
Police said that just before 3 a.m., three armed men wearing dark clothing and black masks entered 2100 Hampton Drive N, where Justin D. Green was babysitting his niece.
Soon after, his identical twin, Josh, drove up with four others, police said. Two of the armed men went outside and robbed them. While the people outside were being robbed, they heard a gunshot from inside the house. The armed men fled.
Police later found Justin Green in the garage, dead from gunshot wounds to the upper body.
"We know it wasn't a random thing," St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt said. "We don't think it was mistaken identity."
Officials found a safe in the house, but it did not appear to have been tampered with. The robbers got cash from the victims outside the home, Proffitt said.
The incident is the city's ninth homicide of the year and the second in as many days. Two men were arrested Wednesday in connection with the shooting death of a 19-year-old man at a convenience store near Bartlett Park.
Green was sent to prison in 2001 for armed burglary and released in July, according to the Department of Corrections.
Family members said he was a changed man who was just trying to get on with his life.
"I know that they want to make him look bad, but he was amazing," his mother, Dawn Howell, 49, said. "He was a kid when he went in (to prison). He came out a man."
Green learned to read and weld in prison, his mother said. He didn't drink or smoke, his family said, and often fished or rode his bike.
Police did not release any information about possible suspects Thursday.
Neighbors said the family had lived in the Tyrone Landing neighborhood home for only a few months.
One of them, Jacqueline Wright, said she heard people coming and going from the Green home about 2 a.m. Thursday, when she let her dogs out.
It didn't alarm her, she said, because the residents in the house are typically "up at all hours of the night."
Staff writer Kim Wilmath contributed to this report.