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St. Petersburg police make arrest in home invasion killing

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have arrested a 21-year-old man in the shooting death of a 27-year-old woman during a home invasion robbery in the Jordan Park neighborhood last week.

Ronnie Betts, who police said was a transient whose last known address was in Clearwater, was arrested on charges of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and home invasion robbery, police said.

Betts was identified as the gunman by at least two witnesses, police said.

The shooting happened at 10:45 p.m. March 23 in a small green house at 1036 19th St. S, where police said at least 16 people who were family or friends were partaking in a regular tradition of card playing and drinking. Many of the women were mothers, and several children were present, police said.

Among them was Ebony Stewart, who responded to a knock on the door. Police said Betts fired off a round from a semiautomatic pistol that struck Stewart in the upper body. Stewart, a mother of two young sons, died before paramedics arrived.

Police said Betts stepped inside and kept shooting, with people scattering everywhere. A 58-year-old woman holding an 18-month-old toddler was shot, as was a 28-year-old man. Both survived.

Another man, who has not been arrested, stood at the doorway holding an AK-47-style rifle, police said. Betts and the other man took cash out of all the women's purses before running away.

Betts was on probation for violating an order of protection in October, records show. He has previous convictions for resisting arrest, cocaine possession and battery.

The second assailant was described as black, 5 feet 10 to 6 feet 1 and 180 pounds. He had shoulder-length dreadlocks and was wearing a blue hat, blue shirt and blue shorts.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call St. Petersburg police at (727) 893-7780. Anonymous tipsters can call (727) 892-5000 or text police at (727) 420-8911.

St. Petersburg police make arrest in home invasion killing 03/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 7:01pm]
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