Father of two shot and killed while driving onto Interstate 275

Published May 25, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — Lanora Fowler stood in agony behind the yellow police tape Sunday, looking at the bullet-ridden car on the road where her 27-year-old nephew was shot dead.

"We just want answers," she said later that day. "Just thinking about the fear that he probably was going through, just knowing that he was alone, it's just sad. It's just devastating."

Police found Dontriele Waller dead of a gunshot wound behind the wheel of his silver Lexus in the northbound entrance ramp leading to Interstate 275 in the area of 54th Avenue N early Sunday morning.

St. Petersburg police rushed to the area at about 1:10 a.m. after reports of gunshots. Homicide investigators said they do not think Waller's shooting was random. The investigation is ongoing.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an African-American civil rights organization, is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case.

Waller's mother, Lashawn Banks, called her son a workaholic, a jokester and a devoted father of two with a third due in September.

"He just didn't deserve this," she said.

Waller's 10-year-old son, Banks said, is taking his father's death extremely hard. Meanwhile, she said, his 5-year-old daughter "is waiting on her daddy to come home."

Waller helped coach his son in youth football, she said, and made sure to attend his daughter's pre-kindergarten graduation on Saturday.

"He was very proud of his kids," she said. "They meant the world to him."

Waller had been with family and friends at the Game Room near 49th Street and 18th Avenue S when he left to go home, she said.

"From leaving there, how did he end up deceased?" Banks said.

Fowler, his aunt, said "every time he came around, when he left, he left you with a smile on your face."

"That's why this is just so devastating," she said. "Because he didn't bother anybody, and if there was any confrontation or anything like that, he was like, 'Um, getting in my car, I'm out.' He didn't want to have any beef with anybody."

She said the police department has been supportive, "but it's just hard to sit and wait and not have answers and not know what happened."

The family is left with memories of Waller, the eldest of five brothers whom Fowler remembers as respectable young kids. Waller wasn't one for violence, she said. Instead, he worked, holding down multiple jobs to provide for his family.

He made sure his children had nice clothes, she said, and the family teased him about being a sharp dresser.

"We're so used to him being in the company, of laughs and smiles," she said. "It's not real."

Times staff writer William Levesque contributed to this report. Contact Claire McNeill at or (727)893-8321.