Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Public safety

13-year-old faces attempted murder charge in shooting of another teen

ST. PETERSBURG — Police arrested a 13-year-old boy on an attempted murder charge Friday, less than 48 hours after authorities said he shot another teenager who taunted him.

Le'Genius Wisdom Williams, of St. Petersburg, turned himself in to the St. Petersburg Police Department about 1:30 p.m. He was immediately booked into the Juvenile Detention Center near Largo.

"Unfortunately this appears to be a reoccurrence of a growing and disturbing phenomenon where young adolescent teens not only get access to guns, but seem to have no qualms about using them for the slightest provocation," said police spokesman Mike Puetz.

Authorities said Williams fired a small-caliber gun several times about 9 p.m. Wednesday in the 1700 block of 26th Street S.

According to a witness, Williams and a small group of teens were on the sidewalk when 15-year-old Dinarick Ford rode by on a bike. The teens began spouting off at each other.

One person told authorities they heard Ford shout out "Childs Park," an apparent reference to a St. Petersburg neighborhood. Williams then pulled out a gun and fired multiple times at Ford, striking him three times in the upper body, police said.

The boy fell from his bike and ran. He ended up a few blocks away, on a front lawn in the 2500 block of 16th Avenue S. Residents there called 911.

The remaining boys scattered. When police arrived, they gave different stories.

Ford's injuries are serious, police said, but not considered life-threatening. He remained at All Children's Hospital on Friday. His family could not be reached for comment.

Police said on Friday that they had not determined where Williams got the gun — or where it is now. Williams did not grant police an interview, on the advice of his attorney.

Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said prosecutors will continue investigating next week and will consider the possibility of seeking adult charges against Williams.

Key considerations in that decision will be how badly the victim was hurt and Williams' prior record. The final decision will be up to State Attorney Bernie McCabe.

"The level of violence by these kids is astounding, and it's downright scary, quite frankly," Bartlett said. "The idea that a 13-year-old kid would A) have a firearm to start with, and B) use it to fire at somebody three times over nothing … it's just scary."

The shooting happened along a stretch of road that is home to families, older residents and a handful of abandoned structures.

Residents said they've had some break-ins before, but nothing so violent. Lately, they said, more young people have been hanging out in the streets.

For at least one family on the block, the shooting held particularly harrowing potential.

Patric Jones, 17, lives at the corner of 17th Avenue S and 26th Street. He said his younger brother was inside — and potentially in the line of fire — during the shooting.

Jones, a high school senior, said he came home from football practice shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday. He saw a group of boys at the corner, but didn't pay much attention.

He wasn't aware anything was wrong until police cruisers and emergency vehicles jammed into the neighborhood.

"My mom was really upset, because my brother could have got shot," Jones said. "He was in the front room, playing a video game."

Jones said he wonders what would have happened had one of the bullets struck a house, a car or someone out at the time.

"That could have been anybody," he said. "It's not good. I don't know how we can stop it."

Both Williams and Ford have had previous contact with the juvenile justice system, according to police.

Williams, police said, was arrested in May after snatching a cellphone from someone at a bus stop. His family could not be reached for comment.

Ford was arrested in May after fingerprints linked him to a burglary. He recently got in trouble for breaking curfew, police said.

"I know police got their hands full, but they need to patrol the area more," said Willie Hubbard, a 57-year-old night security guard who lives in the neighborhood.

Hubbard said he went for a walk Wednesday night and also passed the group of teens. By the time he got around the block, paramedics were at a nearby intersection, attending to the wounded teen.

"I never even heard the shots," he said. "You hear the loud music at night. Drugs and stuff. It's getting to be a bad habit down here. It's a growing problem."

Anyone with information about the incident can call police at (727) 893-7780.

Times staff writer Curtis Krueger contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

Comments
He spent 17 years in prison. Now he’s a free man.

He spent 17 years in prison. Now he’s a free man.

TAMPA — Dwight DuBose walked out of the Orient Road Jail on Tuesday night after trading an orange jumpsuit for a brand new polo shirt and slacks.It was about 9 p.m. He flashed a broad smile and hug staff members of the Innocence Project of Florida wh...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

ST. PETERSBURG — Caps and gowns were in the future for Bryson Welton-Williams and his two friends.Then came Tuesday’s horrific car crash.The three 18-year-old Lakewood High School seniors drove off from school a few minutes early, just 22 days away f...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Teen killed after SUV runs red light; man who fled scene captured

Teen killed after SUV runs red light; man who fled scene captured

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 17-year-old girl was killed Tuesday when her car was hit by a sport-utility vehicle that ran a red light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.One of the occupants of the SUV who ran from the crash scene was captured hours late...
Updated: 9 hours ago
He tried to rob two pharmacies. Both times he left empty-handed.

He tried to rob two pharmacies. Both times he left empty-handed.

TAMPA — Police are looking for a man who failed to rob two pharmacies last week.No one was harmed during the botched heists, but the man may be armed with a handgun, police said.Detectives on Tuesday released surveillance video that showed the man in...
Published: 04/24/18
FHP: Riverview motorcyclist critically injured in crash on I-4

FHP: Riverview motorcyclist critically injured in crash on I-4

TAMPA — A 41-year-old motorcyclist was critically injured in a Monday night crash on Interstate 4, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash took place at about 7:15 p.m. Cristobal Padilla, of Riverview, was riding a 2004 Suzuki motorcycle in...
Published: 04/24/18
St. Pete police identify man wanted for stealing car — and baby

St. Pete police identify man wanted for stealing car — and baby

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are searching for a 19-year-old man accused of stealing a car left running with an 8-month-old baby left in the back on Monday.The baby was found unharmed by two WFLA-Ch. 8 journalists a short time later, according to St. Pete...
Published: 04/24/18
A Sarasota girl nearly dies after accidentally ingesting pool water

A Sarasota girl nearly dies after accidentally ingesting pool water

It started off like a regular pool day at her grandparent’s home. Elianna Grace, 4, and other kids were having fun, blowing water out of pool noodles at each other.Then, as Elianna was blowing water out one end of the noodle, someone else accidentall...
Published: 04/24/18
Buckhorn urged to name woman as fire chief in wake of discrimination suit

Buckhorn urged to name woman as fire chief in wake of discrimination suit

TAMPA — In the wake of a female firefighter’s victory against the city in a discrimination lawsuit, Mayor Bob Buckhorn is being urged to name a high-ranking woman to replace retiring fire Chief Tom Forward.Earlier this month, Buckhorn said he will na...
Published: 04/24/18
Tampa man faces murder charge in September slaying

Tampa man faces murder charge in September slaying

TAMPA — A 68-year-old Tampa man faces a charge of first-degree murder following his arrest Monday in the September death of an Osceola County woman.Evidence from the crime scene led officers to James Jackson, police said.According to police, the body...
Published: 04/24/18
Florida man said sex addiction caused him to attack two women

Florida man said sex addiction caused him to attack two women

CORAL SPRINGS — Police say a security guard arrested in connection with two attacks on women in a Florida neighborhood has told investigators he has a problem. The police report on the Sunday arrest of 25-year-old Dante M. Collins says he admitted tr...
Published: 04/24/18