1. Archive

Local NAACP asks FBI to investigate man's death

Published Aug. 24, 2005

The Hillsborough County branch of the NAACP on Wednesday asked the FBI to investigate the death of a 24-year-old black man in Temple Terrace as a possible hate crime.

In a two-page letter to FBI Tampa division chief Carl Whitehead, NAACP branch president Sam Horton portrayed the circumstances surrounding Damien Johnson's death as suspicious.

An employee at a business park off Fletcher Avenue found Johnson's body hanging from a tree in the woods on Sept. 22. Johnson was 5 miles from his boarding house near the University of South Florida.

Two days later, the Temple Terrace Police Department ruled it a suicide, a conclusion that drew criticism from some residents who said police should have spent more time investigating the case as a possible homicide.

They pointed to the fact that his wallet, which friends and relatives said he always carried, was missing. Police found $150 in his pockets, however.

Detectives and medical examiners say they found no signs of a struggle or bruises on Johnson's 6-foot-5 frame.

The case already has generated enough controversy to draw in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which agreed last month to review the Police Department's investigation. That hasn't satisfied critics, including Johnson's father, Joseph Johnson Sr., who thinks the FBI is the only agency that can conduct a fair investigation at this point.

"There are too many unanswered questions," said Johnson Sr., who thinks his son was murdered.

Man accused of fatal shooting in Old Northeast

LARGO _ After a two-day search, police arrested a 22-year-old St. Petersburg man accused of fatally shooting another man last weekend in the Old Northeast section of St. Petersburg.

Acting on a tip, police found Brian Edward Glick at the Comfort Inn at 3580 Ulmerton Road, near Largo, and arrested him without incident late Tuesday.

Glick got into an argument late Sunday with Preston Palmer Ferguson, 28, who had dropped by the house where Glick was staying, at 446 11th Ave NE. Glick complained that Ferguson had come by too late, St. Petersburg Detective Gary Gibson said.

The two got into a fight, but stopped and appeared to make up. Several people witnessed the fight, Gibson said.

Glick and Ferguson both left the house shortly afterward. Ferguson went to his car near Cherry Street and 11th Avenue NE.

But before Ferguson could get inside his car, police say, Glick came by as the passenger in another car and shot Ferguson with a handgun. A handgun has not been recovered.

The investigation is continuing. Gibson said police want to talk to the driver of the car and anyone else who may have been in it at the time.

Residents in the Old Northeast neighborhood were shocked to hear of a drive-by shooting.

"It's a very good neighborhood," said Mike Kiral, 37, an environmental health safety manager who lives near the area of the shooting. "It's kind of surprising, actually."

No one answered the door Wednesday at the house where the argument occurred.

A woman who identified herself as Glick's mother declined to comment Tuesday.

Ferguson was arrested in 1998 on charges of shooting and killing a 20-year-old roommate. The shooting later was ruled self-defense, and charges were dropped.