Saturday, April 21, 2018
Public safety

Neighborhood argument in Tampa culminates in double killing

TAMPA — A 45-year-old Tampa man killed two neighbors, then was shot in the face, during an ongoing dispute that escalated Saturday night from sharp words to gunfire, police said.

Juan Molina was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder and aggravated assault. Tampa police said he shot and killed Erica White, 42, and Percy Basden, 53.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, police said, Molina confronted White, shooting and killing her. Neighbors said White, who lived nearby, died on the street, her body found on the pavement in front of Molina's house at 2311 E 110th Ave.

Molina then walked to Basden's home several hundred feet east on 110th Avenue and shot through the front door, killing Basden, police said.

Molina tried to climb through a front window of Basden's home, but Basden's adult stepson shot him in the face, said police Lt. Ron McMullen.

Molina was taken to Tampa General Hospital, underwent surgery and was in serious condition Sunday, though he is expected to survive, McMullen said.

"It's clear that this family has issues with everyone in the neighborhood," he said of Molina and his son, also named Juan Molina, who was arrested on an aggravated assault charge after police say he threatened a neighbor with a knife.

McMullen said it is not clear if the incident was connected to the killings, although jail records show the younger Molina, 25, was placed under arrest early Sunday at police headquarters.

He said detectives have not yet released details about why the trio was arguing. He said it was an "ongoing" dispute over a variety of issues.

"I just know it was a simple verbal argument that escalated," McMullen said. "Two people are dead and one person is going to spend the rest of his life in jail. It makes no sense."

He added, "They were fighting like little children."

Basden's wife, Michell Basden, told Bay News 9 that she was at a birthday party Saturday night when she got a call that her husband had been shot and killed. She said she did not know why.

Her husband kept to himself, spending most of his time at work, church or with his family, she told Bay News 9.

Richard Jones, 60, who lives two houses down from the Basden residence, said he heard a loud argument but couldn't tell what it was about.

At one point, Jones said, he heard someone yell, "You're going to be sorry for what you did."

Jones said he then heard gunfire erupt, moving from one end of the street to the other. He stayed inside his home.

"It was like a machine gun going off," he said.

McMullen said the three individuals knew one another and police had previously responded to the location to investigate disturbances. The neighborhood is just east of Interstate 275 and south of E Fowler Avenue.

Larry Porter, 52, who lives nearly across the street from the spot where White died, said those involved in the altercation had once been friends whose relationship soured for reasons he did not know.

"They ate together, they played together, laughed together, joked together," Porter said. "They grew up liking each other. But they ended up hating each other."

Molina was listed as president of Molina and Sons Drywall, which records show is inactive.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he pleaded guilty to 1997 felony charges of burglary of a residence, burglary of a vehicle and grand theft. Adjudication was withheld and he was sentenced to probation and community service, the records show.

In 2003, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of soliciting another to commit prostitution. Adjudication was withheld in that case also, and he was ordered to pay $181 in court costs, records show.

Most recently, in March, he faced a misdemeanor domestic violence battery charge. Records show the charge was dropped.

In July, a lender won a nearly $69,000 foreclosure case over Molina's house, records show. The home was scheduled for auction if the judgment wasn't paid.

News researcher Natalie Watson and staff writer Caitlin Johnston contributed to this report.

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