Mom of shooting suspect: 'Do the right thing'
Double murder suspect could still be in Jacksonville, St. Johns sheriff says
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – About 24 hours after a woman and man were killed several blocks apart in West Augustine, St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said the convicted felon who fired the shots could be in Jacksonville or could be headed toward Atlanta, where he has connections.
The stolen car Johnny Lawrence Williams Jr. used to get away after the two homicides was recovered late Tuesday night near the intersection of Norwood Avenue and Interstate 95 in Jacksonville. It was impounded and is being processed for evidence.
At a vigil for one of the victims Wednesday night, Williams' mother begged him to surrender to police.
"Son, wherever you are, please, do the right thing," Virginia Betts said.
Shoar said the handgun Williams used to kill his girlfriend, 24-year-old Jamie Wilson, was found in the first car he used to flee the shooting scene, but he is believed to still have the assault rifle that was used to kill 18-year-old Keiwuan Murray.
"We're fortunate that we didn't have more victims, because the weapon was a very high-powered rifle," Shoar said.
Shoar said that after Wilson, Williams, their 2-month-old son and a 4-year-old niece got out of a car in front of a home on Rollins Avenue, Williams shot Wilson. He then got back into the car and hit a stroller holding the baby before driving a few blocks to the corner of Duval and Fourth streets, where his mother lives.
After talking with her, he went outside and shot Murray with the rifle before taking off, Shoar said. That's also where a second woman, identified as Brittany Tobler, 28, was hit in the hand by gunfire.
Tobler and the baby hit by the car were taken to Flagler Hospital for treatment. Both were treated and released.
Shoar said Williams had an ongoing dispute with a group of people that included Murray and Tobler that had nothing to do with why he shot Wilson.
At Wednesday's news conference, Shoar discounted rumors that there was a second gunman, saying there is eyewitness and video surveillance evidence that Williams is the only suspect in both killings.
The red 2001 Ford Contour deputies believe Williams used to leave St. Augustine was found abandoned on Kenmore Street, just off Norwood Avenue in Northwest Jacksonville. It was impounded and processed for evidence in the case.
St. Johns County deputies, as well as those in Jacksonville and surrounding counties, continue to search for Williams, who is described as a black man, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing 195 pounds.
An arrest warrant for Williams was signed by a judge overnight. St. Johns County deputies said he should be considered armed and dangerous, and anyone with any information is asked to call 911.
Victims' families in shock
The families of Wilson and Murray are struggling to understand how and why their loved ones were killed.
Wilson's family is heartbroken but coming together to support each other. They gathered for a vigil Wednesday night at Calvin Peete Park in St. Johns County.
Betts, Williams' mother, was also there and said Wilson had been living with her. She said her son and Wilson had just become engaged, and she is still in disbelief.
“He loved her, and there's nothing he wouldn't do for her, but this, I don't believe it,” Betts said. “I don't believe this. He didn't do this to her.”
She begged for him to turn himself in, something Murray's family said would be the first step in helping them understand what happened and begin the healing process.
"It's a tragedy for both families," said Whitney Wells, Murray's aunt.
The family said Murray was a good person with a big heart. He left behind a sister, a baby brother, his mother and several aunts.
"I love my nephew; I love him from the bottom of my heart. ... This really, really hurts," said another of Murray's aunts, Ramona Brown. "The streets, they don't love nobody."
Murray's family is beginning to plan a funeral but is not ready to announce arrangements.
"I'm angry, and I want justice," Murray's aunt Cashana Lee said.
As law enforcement officials focused on bringing Williams in, Wilson's family remembered her Wednesday as an angel who was just too special for Earth.
“She's been strong, so strong that he wanted her up there with him to watch over her child. That's all I can tell myself,” Wilson's cousin Jana McSwain said. “I knew it because the devil don't win that easily. God has a reason for everything he does.”
Alisia Wilson said her sister was bright, ambitious and always willing to help others.
"A daughter is gone. (A) sister is gone. A granddaughter is gone. A cousin is gone. A niece is gone, and she's a mother. Her baby just turned 2 months old yesterday, and we have to raise him," Alisia Williams said.
The family is already thinking what they will say when the baby gets older and asks what happened to his mother.
"We're going to get through this. We're going to take it day by day, and when the time comes to tell him we will tell him, but for right now, we want him to be a child and let him grow," Alisia Williams said. "He has plenty of family that loves him, and he won't have any problems. He'll grow up just like my children, just like one of ours, and he'll be treated no different."
At the vigil, family members left with the message that life can be taken at any moment, so they should live it like Jamie Wilson did, with kindness, cherishing every minute.
“(She was) very friendly, always happy and very lovable, never holding a grudge -- just everything that a perfect human being could be,” said Jackie McSwain, Wilson's cousin. “She just loved anybody, and if she had her last (dollar), she would give it to you, and that was her.”
The Wilson family has also set up a GoFundMe account to help the family.
Still looking for motive
"Certainly, the eyewitness testimony is critical for us, but we also follow the evidence," SJC Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan said Wednesday. "And right now, some of the story lines that are out there are not marrying up with what we are seeing behind the scenes. We would ask people to be patient. This is, unfortunately, not a 40-minute television show with commercial breaks. This is reality. It takes time to do forensics. It takes time to do the medical examiner's job. It takes time to process the vehicles that we have."
Williams has a lengthy criminal history that includes previous charges of attempted felony murder, strong-arm robbery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, battery on a law enforcement officer, eluding police, drug possession and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
His arrests date back to 1997, when he was a teenager.
"We have to believe, and our public has to believe, that this is a dangerous individual," Shoar said Wednesday. "In broad daylight, he murdered two people. He is armed, as we know today, with a rifle. We are dealing with a desperate individual, and that's why we are asking Johnny to do the right thing: Pick up a phone. He can call law enforcement. He can call anybody that he knows, an attorney, whatever."
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