ST. PETERSBURG — Starlette Clark shook with frustration, tears welling in her eyes as she stood Tuesday morning between two decrepit businesses on 14th Avenue S and 16th Street S.
“The killing has to stop,” she said, her voice cracking. “There are so many murders, you can’t even point them out. Every other week it seems to me there’s a killing.”
Behind her was a swarm of law enforcement vehicles parked around the scene where two bodies were discovered that morning.
It wasn’t until hours later that St. Petersburg police revealed what it was a double-homicide investigation. A man and a woman were found dead near a pick-up truck in an alley off 14th Avenue S in a case that St. Petersburg police said had “drug overtones.”
They were identified as Cheryl Lee Casey, 58 and Kenneth Lee Shook, 35.
Police did not say how the two were killed. But Vincent Williams said he was about a block away when he heard several gunshots at about 3:40 a.m.
“As soon as I got home I heard the shots, five or six,” he said. “Then it went again, about five more.”
Other residents said they also heard two sets of gunshots fired after 3:30 a.m. Police, however, said the first call they received was at about 7:30 a.m.
As residents gathered around the crime scene, many grew frustrated at what they believed to be a rising number of murders in Midtown, which is predominantly black.
“The killing has to stop,” Williams said. “There have been a lot of shootings the last few years.”
In July, Williams said his nephew was shot and killed in a nightclub two blocks from Tuesday’s crime scene. About three years ago, Clark said her son was fatally shot in a Jordan Park apartment.
Nearly everyone gathered at the crime scene told stories of violence in the neighborhood and their disappointment in police efforts. When there’s an issue, they complained that the police react too late. There also aren’t enough proactive patrols, they said.
“I don’t think police are doing enough,” Lyquanta King said. “Either way it goes, it’s too much violence. It’s got to stop.”
St. Petersburg police ask anyone with information about this incident to call (727) 893-7780, or text SPPD + the information to TIP411.
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @danuscripts.