ST. PETERSBURG — The street in front of Earl Thompson's St. Petersburg home was the scene of a killing this spring with links to a Manatee County gang that authorities say committed nine murders over the last seven years.
"There was a body laying there in the road," Thompson, 75, said, remembering the April shooting. "That was the darnedest thing I've seen."
St. Petersburg police said Joshua R. Smith, 24, was already dead when they found him in front of Thompson's home at 2410 Auburn St. S, at about 5:45 a.m. on April 27. Smith, of Palmetto, had ties to the gang, police said, though they declined to elaborate.
Thompson was asleep when the shooting happened and only noticed the commotion outside when he got up to get his wife, Joyce, a glass of water. He saw a body already covered and surrounded by police tape.
"It was surprising, for something like to happen, around here, close," he said.
Federal and local officials announced the indictment of six gang members Thursday at a news conference in Manatee County, where the group was based.
Jerry W. Green, 27, Napoleon Harris, 29, Nathaniel Harris, 23, Deonte J. Martin, 24, Corey D. Harris, 23, and Charlie L. Green, 27, could face life imprisonment or execution.
Authorities said the gang committed nine murders since 2007. One murder was a case of mistaken identity in Manatee County. Another was the execution of a teenage witness to a murder. Another was a man gunned down at a youth football practice in Bradenton.
At least two of the men charged had connections to Pinellas or Hillsborough counties. On Thursday, officials said they executed search warrants at homes in Tampa and Brandon where two of the arrested men lived.