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Old Northeast shooting suspect fascinated by mass shootings, stockpiled weapons, police say

William Shutt faces charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder in the March 27 shooting in St. Petersburg’s Historic Old Northeast. Investigators said at a bail hearing Thursday that they discovered Shutt’s phone showed he was fascinated by mass shootings and violence. He also kept a large arsenal, police said. Police took these photos from Shutt’s phone showing him taking selfies with his firearms. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
William Shutt faces charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder in the March 27 shooting in St. Petersburg’s Historic Old Northeast. Investigators said at a bail hearing Thursday that they discovered Shutt’s phone showed he was fascinated by mass shootings and violence. He also kept a large arsenal, police said. Police took these photos from Shutt’s phone showing him taking selfies with his firearms. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published May 31, 2019

The day after he is accused of firing on two men stopped next to his vehicle in a St. Petersburg neighborhood, police said William Shutt typed out a suicide note on his phone.

"There was a time when I was a good guy," the 31-year-old wrote.

Shutt would soon face charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder in the March 27 shooting in the Historic Old Northeast.

Now he's in jail, held without bail. His lawyers came to a Pinellas courtroom on Thursday asking that a judge set bail for Shutt, to give him the chance to be freed pending trial.

Prosecutors countered by introducing evidence that painted a picture of a troubled man obsessed with mass shootings and murder. He was a man who photographed himself holding semiautomatic rifles and pistols, the state said, and stockpiled weapons and ammunition.

THE VIDEO: Vehicle seen fleeing after fatal shooting in St. Pete's Historic Old Northeast

THE ARREST: Man arrested in fatal road rage shooting in St. Pete's Old Northeast

THE SEARCH WARRANT: Suspect in Old Northeast murder is an internet troll who shot up a store with an AK-47

The hearing also briefly touched on extremism. Prosecutors asked St. Petersburg police Detective Christina Kenney if she had "found any connection between the defendant and any alt-right groups." That's a term for far-right ideologies such as white supremacy. The victims in the shooting are both black.

"Yes, ma'am," Kenney said.

The defense objected. The judge upheld it. The detective wasn't allowed to elaborate.

Police obtained a search warrant to examine Shutt's cell phone on April 24. The warrant revealed that he was an internet troll who had been suspended from Facebook.

The detective testified Thursday about what the warrant unearthed: Shutt's cellphone was filled with videos of mass shootings, including footage of the March 15 massacre at a New Zealand mosque that was livestreamed. He also kept a video of a man shooting a police officer and a video of a man whose face was pounded with an axe until he died.

This was "a very small sample" of videos found on his phone, Kenney said. He saved many articles about mass shootings and murder, the detective said, including some about how killers later evaded charges.

Shutt sometimes joked about mass murder. He once texted his girlfriend complaining about the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I hope they have a mass shooting," he texted.

"Stop," she texted back.

Shutt is an Army veteran whose ex-wife said he served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A fellow soldier told the court Shutt served as a "level-headed" ambulance driver in Iraq.

Detectives also found Shutt had an extensive cache of weapons, many kept at the home of the man who employed him as a caretaker. Detectives discovered semiautomatic rifles and shotguns in his living quarters. Most were loaded. The caretaker told police he didn't know about most of the weapons because he has limited eyesight.

Police also found banana magazines, which are typically used by AK-47 rifles and can hold more ammunition than other rifle magazines. There was also a grenade, Kevlar body-armor, jugs of alcohol, steroids, other medications and "thousands upon thousands of AK-47 loose rounds," Kenney said. Some were hidden in whey protein containers.

There were even more photos of weapons on Shutt's phone, Kenney said, but police haven't been able to find all of them.

Shutt also traveled frequently since 2012, to Colombia, Cuba, South Korea and Qatar. Yet he lived in subsidized housing in Seminole, the detective said, and received a "small check" from military disability benefits. Police said they're still trying to figure out how he could afford his expensive arsenal and international trips.

The defense tried to argue that Shutt feared for his life when he fatally shot Quentin Hicks, 42, and wounded Tyler Oliverbrooks Acker, 31. But Acker told police Shutt appeared to provoke the confrontation.

The state also introduced the suicide note as evidence.

"I've always held in my anger and smiled it's been building up for years," the defendant wrote on March 28. "I cannot wait to see what the afterlife holds,"

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip J. Federico denied the defense's motion. Shutt will remain held without bail.

"Those words show consciousness of guilt," the judge said of the note. "They show somebody who understood what he did, understood the consequences of what he might be facing as a result of this."

Contact Kavitha Surana at ksurana@tampabay.com. Follow @Ksurana6

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