Friday, December 15, 2017
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
Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

TAMPA — Police are seeking a "person of interest" who they believe has information about a Dec. 3 drive-by shooting that killed a 22-year-old man.Police are searching for Anan Motilal, 25. He stands about 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 pounds. He may have ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Pinellas Park officer stuns middle school student with Taser

PINELLAS PARK — A school resource officer stunned a middle school student with a Taser while trying to break up a fight between her and another female student on Thursday, police said.Neither the Pinellas Park officer nor the students involved in the...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir was source of family strife before arrest

Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir was source of family strife before arrest

An heir to a local flooring company charged with failing to report the death of a young woman last year has a troubled criminal history and was a source of strife in his family business, according to court records.Robert Butler III, 52, was arrested ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

PLANT CITY — Jonathon Adams heard a scream, "like a dog getting run over by a car," then saw a minivan come tearing around the corner with a woman he knew dangling out of the passenger side.It was the start of a deadly sequence of events Dec. 8 that ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

DADE CITY — A 25-year-old man wanted in connection with the attempted robbery of a taxi driver in Lakeland turned himself in late Wednesday night after being prompted by his mother, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Edner Dely of Dade Ci...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Deputies: Fleeing suspect shoots, injures dog as he runs through yards

DOVER — While fleeing from deputies, a man shot a dog inside a fenced yard Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said they were attempting to pull over a vehicle that might have been stolen near Milagro Court and Bl...
Published: 12/14/17

Amtrak train strikes, kills 60-year-old woman in Lakeland

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 60-year-old woman who was hit by an Amtrak train on Thursday.The woman was struck at 12:30 p.m. in the railroad intersection of Highway 92 East and Fairway Avenue in Lakeland, deputies ...
Published: 12/14/17

Palm Harbor woman, 23, killed while crossing Seminole Boulevard

SEMINOLE — A 23-year-old Palm Harbor woman was fatally injured when she was struck by a sport-utility vehicle while crossing Seminole Boulevard on Wednesday night, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.The incident took place at about 8:4...
Published: 12/14/17

Second Ruskin man sought in theft of cell tower equipment that interrupted service

TAMPA —The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has obtained a warrant for the arrest of a second suspect in the theft of batteries from cell phone towers that interrupted phone service and the 911 emergency call system.Investigators are looking for ...
Published: 12/14/17
Florida Missing Child Alert canceled for Jacksonville boy, 2

Florida Missing Child Alert canceled for Jacksonville boy, 2

A Jacksonville boy, 2, who was reported missing early Thursday morning, has been found safe.A Florida Missing Child Alert has been canceled for Legend Jones, who had last been seen in the 1900 block of Fouraker Road in Jacksonville, according to the ...
Published: 12/14/17