St Petersburg, Fla., April, 13, 2022 – (Nathan Place | Independent) Police are investigating whether two seemingly random murders in St Petersburg, Florida were committed by the same killer – a killer who is still at large.
Vernon Williams, 60, was walking along Melrose Avenue South on 10 April when someone approached and fatally shot him. Corlenzo Williams, 24, was walking down 17th Avenue South two days later when someone shot him dead as well.
Although they share the same last name, police say these two victims were not related and did not know each other. And according to the St Petersburg Police Department, the two homicides “have several similarities that are concerning.”
“In both cases, the shootings occurred overnight, both targeted men walking alone in neighborhoods, and both victims were approached by someone in a car,” the SPPD said in a statement.
In both cases, SPPD Chief Anthony Holloway said at a press conference, the suspect is a Black man driving a car.
“Right now, as we look at the thing, it’s a Black male,” Mr Holloway said on Wednesday. “We’re not sure it’s the same Black male, but everything is lining up to a Black male that’s having a brief conversation with the victims prior to the shooting.”
Police have asked the public for any information they might have regarding the shootings, especially surveillance footage. They also warned anyone in St Petersburg not to go near a stranger who approaches them in a car.
Mr Holloway said the descriptions of the car have been contradictory, so police cannot yet release the colour or model of the vehicle.
In addition to the two deceased victims, police say there was a third incident – but the potential target survived.
“Also, a third man reports a vehicle approached him near the location of the second shooting, but he ran off when he saw a gun,” the SPPD said.
Mr Holloway said this person had no connection to the other two victims.
“They have no link,” the chief said. “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.”
Police have urged anyone with any relevant information to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-873-TIPS or at www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org. The SPPD is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for useful tips.