Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Public safety

Son of Tampa police officer killed in apartment complex shooting (w/video)

TAMPA — Neighbors in the Park Terrace apartment complex awoke early Wednesday morning to shouts and the pop of a single gunshot. When police arrived, they found James Williams, the son of one of their own, dead.

Police arrested Gregory Charlemagne, 30, of Tampa on Wednesday. Authorities said Williams, who is the son of Tampa police Officer Betty Williams, was inside Apartment 205 at 5111 Palm Park Court when he got into an argument with Charlemagne just before 6 a.m.

Charlemagne had dated Miriame Bernard, who lives at the Palm Park Court apartment, for seven years and the two recently split, police said. They have two children.

Police said Bernard came out of her bedroom early Wednesday when she heard a noise and found Charlemagne walking toward her. He pushed her against a wall when Williams came out of the bedroom and tried to intervene, police said.

Bernard took her two children from the bedroom and fled the apartment. The two men fought briefly, and Charlemagne shot Williams, police said.

Police received a 911 call about 5:58 a.m. and arrived a short time later. Charlemagne later turned himself in to police and admitted to the crime during an interview with detectives, police said. He is charged with second-degree murder.

Betty Williams, 58, the victim's mother, has been an officer with the Tampa Police Department since 1996. Four police cars lined the narrow street outside her South Tampa home Wednesday afternoon. A woman who answered the door said Betty Williams did not wish to speak.

State records show Charlemagne has been arrested a few times in the past for possession of marijuana less than 20 grams.

James Williams, 28, has had a handful of arrests, but apparently few convictions, state and court records show. In 2007, he faced a robbery charge, but the case was later dropped. In October, he was arrested on a charge of battery on a security officer. The case went to trial in February and a jury found Williams not guilty.

Yellow crime scene tape blocked the breezeway outside the apartment where the shooting happened. Forensic technicians stepped up stairs and back out. Williams' body was carried out on a stretcher and put into the back of a white van.

"It was a rude awakening," said Carl Johnson, a downstairs neighbor. Johnson said he woke up in bed about 5:45 a.m. to the sound of shouting and banging doors upstairs. Then he heard a gunshot.

"This is the quietest part of the complex right here," Johnson said. "I'll be scared to come out and sit on my patio now."

Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Keeley Sheehan contributed to this report.

   
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