Monday, June 18, 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.

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