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ST. PETERSBURG VICTIM ALMOST MADE IT HOME

Police say there are no suspects in the targeted shooting.

The heat woke 50-year-old Marcia Beil from a light sleep early Saturday.

She got out of bed, raided the freezer and fixed herself two ice cream cones. She glanced at the clock. It was 3:17 a.m.

Then she heard two shots.

She went out the front door, ice cream cones still in hand. Muzzle flashes lit the darkness and gun smoke filled the air. She counted eight gunshots in all. And a white sport utility vehicle drove away.

Her neighbor, 27-year-old Vicandi D. Simpson, lay mortally wounded in the yardof a home in the 4500 block of Seventh Avenue N, one house away from where he lived with his father.

Police said Simpson was the victim of a targeted shooting, but hadn't released many details about the shooting. There are no known suspects and the motive for the killing was unclear Sunday.

Beil rushed after the shooting to help Simpson. She pulled off her shirt and held it against his head to stop the bleeding.

Simpson's father, Lewis Simpson, came out with a flashlight, she said. She didn't know what to say.

"Mr. Lewis, don't you know this boy?" Beil recalled asking.

"Yeah, that's my son," she said he responded.

Beil said the 27-year-old was out of breath and sweaty from running. He was going in and out of consciousness. As she held his head, moments stretched slowly.

Many neighbors came out of their houses after the shooting. Several called 911.

Beil was the first one there. She watched him take his last breath about two minutes before the paramedics arrived, she said.

The victim had his keys clenched tight in his hands. That was the worst part, Beil said - that he was almost home.

"Oh son, I knew this was going to happen," Beil recalled Lewis Simpson as saying. He then grabbed his son's keys from his hands and turned away.

On Sunday, no one answered the door at Lewis Simpson's house or returned messages.

His girlfriend of three years, Stephanie Welch, said Vicandi Simpson was a dad himself. Together, they had a 1-year-old girl. And he had a 10-year-old girl from a previous relationship.

He attended church two or three times a week, she said, and played keyboards during church ceremonies.

"He was an amazing musician," she said. "Next to the kids and me, that was his other love."

Neighbors, however, said Vicandi Simpson was known to them as a troublemaker.

He had been arrested in Pinellas County multiple times on charges including battery and possession of cocaine, state records show. He was most recently arrested April 20 in St. Petersburg on a charge of aggravated battery.

Welch said, though, that Vicandi Simpson had never been convicted of a felony.

"He did not deserve this," she said. "Nobody deserves to be gunned down."

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