Tampa police continue to investigate two separate homicides

Published June 30, 2015

TAMPA — Detectives continued Monday to investigate two separate shootings that left a 40-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman dead this weekend amid an alarming surge in violent crime in Tampa.

No arrests had been made in the deaths of Kirk Tyrone Chang and Sharon Darns Watkins. Police released spare details about the circumstances of either case, but suggested that neighborhood gang activity might be to blame in one.

"These kids with neighborhood feuds shooting at each other has got to stop," Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said in an emailed statement. "Enough is enough. People should not have to live in fear in their own neighborhood."

Watkins' body was found by her husband about 2:15 p.m. Saturday in the apartment they shared at 1805 N Delaware Ave., police said.

The apartment is in the North Boulevard Homes public housing complex. City leaders recently announced plans to demolish the complex, which has long been a magnet for criminal activity, in order to redevelop the area.

No one answered the door Monday morning at Watkins' apartment. A neighbor said her husband, James Watkins, 65, likely would not be coming back. Calls to their family were not returned.

About 12 hours before Watkins was found, police were called to the area of 30th Street and E Osborne Avenue. There, they found Chang wounded. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died.

The killings are the 19th and 20th homicides in what has been a unusually bad year for violent crime in Tampa. Police have called attention to an alarming rise in shootings and other gun crimes, most of which have occurred in the city's poor, inner-city neighborhoods. Four homicide victims have been teens.

Reasons for the crime surge have been difficult to peg. In many cases, police have pointed to "neighborhood groups" and "territorial disputes," though they tend to avoid calling them the work of gangs.

City officials have enacted a number of measures to temper the violence. On Saturday, the same day Chang and Watkins were killed, officers collected more than 500 unwanted firearms during a daylong "gun buyback" event in River Tower Park.

Contact Dan Sullivan at or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.