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St. Petersburg man sought in shooting of woman killed while in car with her kids

Joana Peca, 27, was shot to death as she held her baby in her car and another child sat in the backseat.
Benjamin Robert Williams is wanted on a murder charge.
Benjamin Robert Williams is wanted on a murder charge. [ St. Petersburg Police Department ]
Published Aug. 2
Updated Aug. 2

St. Petersburg police say they have identified a suspect in the Saturday shooting of a woman who was killed in her car as she held her baby and another child sat in the back seat, police said.

St. Petersburg police said a warrant was issued for Benjamin Robert Williams, 38, aka “Bambi.”

Joana Peca, 27, was shot and killed about 5:30 p.m. Saturday near the Woodlawn Memorial Gardens cemetery in St. Petersburg near the corner of 60th Street South and 1st Avenue South. Officers found Peca dead inside her car.

Williams and Peca were involved in a romantic relationship and shared a baby. Williams shot Peca in the face multiple times while she held her infant. Her older child sat in the backseat during the shooting, according to police.

Police said neither of the children was injured, though police described them as “frightened.”

Police said Williams is connected to “several” open homicide investigations. He is deemed armed and dangerous, according to police.

Williams has a Pinellas County arrest record that spans about 20 years. He has been arrested in cases ranging from grand theft auto, possession of drugs with intent to sell, robbery and fleeing police. He was most recently arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm in January 2020. The state attorney’s office did not seek a prosecution.

In 2007, Williams was arrested on charges of principle to attempted murder and strong-arm robbery, but those charges were dismissed, court records show.

Efforts to reach Peca’s family members through multiple phone numbers and email addresses were unsuccessful Monday.

Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

Anyone with information about Williams’ whereabouts can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS to be eligible for the reward. Tips can also be shared by calling the St. Petersburg Police Department at 727-893-7780 or by sending a text that includes the letters “SPPD” and your tip to TIP411.

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