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Shooting leaves two dead in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — An argument that ended in gunfire late Sunday left two Clearwater men dead in the North Greenwood neighborhood, authorities said.

Derrick Kelly Harris, 23, and William John Hamilton, 30, were taken to Morton Plant Hospital, where they died.

Hamilton was released from the Pinellas County Jail less than 24 hours before he was shot, but Clearwater police said they don't have any information that suggests his arrest on assault charges Saturday is connected to the shooting.

Sunday's shooting happened about 11:10 p.m. near LaSalle Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Police on patrol in the area heard gunfire and found a crowd of about 40 people when they arrived. Harris was taken to Morton Plant. Hamilton was dropped off by a friend at the same hospital a short time later.

Detectives were working Monday to identify and interview people who were at the scene, which is north of Palmetto Street and close to a police substation. Police said they think there was an altercation between two groups, but said Monday they were still trying to unravel what sparked the violence.

It was not clear Monday if Hamilton and Harris were the intended victims, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Beth Watts. Police also were trying to determine if there was only one shooter.

Hamilton and Harris have extensive criminal records in Florida.

Hamilton was most recently released from jail early Sunday. He was arrested Saturday on charges of burglary with assault and shooting a deadly missile into an occupied vehicle in connection with a March 22 incident. Police said Hamilton attacked a person in a car with a 5-foot pine 2-by-4 at 707 Vine Ave. in Clearwater about 11:30 p.m. on March 22, according to an arrest affidavit.

He smashed out the driver's-side window and struck the victim, causing lacerations, according to the report. Hamilton then threw a cement block through the window.

Hamilton was first arrested at 13 on a charge of selling crack. Since then, he has been arrested dozens of times in Florida and served five years in prison for various cocaine offenses, according to state records. Hamilton's family could not be reached for comment.

Harris' mother declined to comment Monday afternoon, as friends and relatives gathered at her home just a few blocks from the shooting scene.

Harris also was arrested for the first time at age 13. He has been arrested several times and was convicted of possession of cocaine in 2010.

Police declined to discuss how many times each man was shot or what type of weapon was used, citing an ongoing investigation.

Police ask anyone with information to call them at (727) 562-4422. People can also remain anonymous by texting CWPD and the tip information to 847411. Anonymous Web tips can be submitted at clearwaterpolice.org.

Shooting leaves two dead in Clearwater 04/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 1:14am]

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