Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Breaking News

Tampa man faces murder charges in random shootings that killed 2 in St. Petersburg, police say

Detectives identified Johnny Carnegie, 34, as a person of interest April 13 in the slayings of Vernon Williams, 60, and Corlenzo Williams, 24. He was arrested Monday.
Johnny Carnegie, 34, was arrested Monday on two counts of first-degree murder in the separate shootings of Vernon Williams, 60, and Corlenzo Williams, 24, in St. Petersburg. Carnegie is currently in the Hillsborough County Jail on unrelated charges.
Johnny Carnegie, 34, was arrested Monday on two counts of first-degree murder in the separate shootings of Vernon Williams, 60, and Corlenzo Williams, 24, in St. Petersburg. Carnegie is currently in the Hillsborough County Jail on unrelated charges. [ The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Apr. 25|Updated Apr. 25

ST. PETERSBURG — A Tampa man has been arrested in the fatal shootings of two St. Petersburg men killed days apart earlier this month, the St. Petersburg Police Department announced Monday.

Detectives identified Johnny Carnegie, 34, as a person of interest in the separate shootings of Vernon Williams, 60, and Corlenzo Williams, 24, and took him into custody April 13 with the help of the Tampa Police Department and the FBI. He was being held in a Hillsborough County jail on charges unrelated to the shootings, police said.

An arrest warrant for Carnegie was signed Monday on two counts of first-degree murder in those slayings, the St. Petersburg Police Department said in a news release. He also faces one charge of aggravated assault in a third case.

Photos of victims Corlenzo Williams, 24, and Vernon Williams, 60, were displayed at a Wednesday press conference at the St. Petersburg Police Department, 1301 1st Avenue North. Both men were shot while walking on a St. Petersburg street, a few days apart, St. Petersburg police said.
Photos of victims Corlenzo Williams, 24, and Vernon Williams, 60, were displayed at a Wednesday press conference at the St. Petersburg Police Department, 1301 1st Avenue North. Both men were shot while walking on a St. Petersburg street, a few days apart, St. Petersburg police said. [ Michaela Mulligan ]

Vernon Williams died early April 10 of a gunshot wound in the 900 block of Melrose Avenue South. Corlenzo Williams was shot and killed early April 12 in the 2900 block of 17th Avenue South — about two miles away from where Vernon was killed.

Investigators soon suspected the two killings were related, according to a search warrant filed April 14 in Pinellas County that sought permission to search Carnegie’s vehicle, a silver Lincoln MKZ with a fog light out on the driver’s side. Multiple surveillance cameras showed a sedan matching that description near each crime scene, according to the search warrant.

In each shooting, the victim was walking in St. Petersburg around 1 a.m. when he was stopped by a man driving a vehicle, later described by police as a Lincoln MKZ four-door sedan, according to the search warrant. It then appears the driver got out of his car and had a short conversation with the victim before shooting and killing him, the search warrant said.

Both shooting victims appear to have been chosen at random, and no known motive has been uncovered in their deaths, the warrant said.

A possible third victim told police he was walking south on 30th Street, near 17th Avenue South, on April 12 when he heard what sounded like a single gunshot from somewhere behind him, according to the search warrant. He said a man in a silver, four-door vehicle then drove up behind him and stopped. The driver got out and asked the man for a “light,” then pointed a handgun at his head, the man told police.

The man ran when he saw the gun, according to the search warrant.

At an April 13 news conference, police Chief Anthony Holloway advised caution for anyone walking late at night or in the early hours of the morning and warned residents that if a male driver attempted to stop them, they should walk away from the vehicle.

Looking for real-time news alerts?

Looking for real-time news alerts?

Subscribe to our free Breaking News newsletter

You’ll receive updates on major issues and events in Tampa Bay and beyond as they happen.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

“So we’re assuming that the suspect is driving down the street, spotting these people that are walking down the street — having a conversation and then shooting them,” Holloway said on April 13.

Carnegie was arrested later that night in Tampa on an outstanding warrant for a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The details of that case appear similar to the St. Petersburg shootings — police say Carnegie shot at someone he didn’t know and without any apparent provocation in the parking lot of a Tampa bar.

Surveillance video at the Warehouse Bar, 4023 W Gandy Blvd., shows Carnegie backing his vehicle into a parking spot next to another vehicle shortly about 3 a.m. on Feb. 15, according to details provided by Tampa police. As the man in the other vehicle unlocked his driver’s side door, Carnegie got out of his own vehicle, pointed a handgun at the man and, without saying anything, fired two rounds at him, police said. The rounds skipped off the roof of the man’s car and did not strike him.

As the man crouched down to take cover, Carnegie fired another round through the closed passenger side window of the man’s vehicle. The round pierced the driver’s seat of the vehicle and grazed the man’s thigh, causing what police said was a minor injury. Paramedics treated him at the scene. The man told police he didn’t know Carnegie and didn’t know why Carnegie shot at him.

Carnegie is being held in a Hillsborough County jail. He will remain there until the completion of the extradition process, St. Petersburg police said.

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

Times staff writer Tony Marrero contributed to this report.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge