'He's not a monster' says mom of double-murder suspect

Sheriff says shooting suspect had domestic dispute with 1st victim

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – As the search continues for a man wanted in connection to a double-murder Tuesday in St. Johns County, that man's mother tells News4Jax her son is innocent.

Investigators are still looking for Johnny Williams Jr., who has been on the run since two shootings that left 24-year-old Jamie Wilson and 18-year-old Keiwuan Murray dead and another woman wounded.

The shootings were less than a mile apart in West Augustine.

St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar emphasized Friday that the department's No. 1 goal is to bring Williams into custody. He is still considered armed and dangerous.

But Virginia Betts, Williams' mother, said the sheriff's office and the media have made her son out to be a monster and nothing could be further from the truth. She said she will support her son no matter what.

“He's not a monster. He's a caring, loving person,” said Betts, who live across the street from the site of one of Tuesday's shootings. “If your life feels threatened, you're liable to do anything. If somebody was threatening you and your family and your loved ones at a close range, you would do anything. I know his life was being threatened.”

Betts described her son as a devoted father and said he was in love with Wilson. The two were a couple and had a 2-month old son together.

Shoar said Wednesday 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 about 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, 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. 

Shoar said that after talking with his mom, Williams went outside and shot at a group of people where Murray was standing and Brittany Tobler, 28, was also hit by gunfire. 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.

"We've got so much information, and we've got to kind of synthesize it and get it in chronological order," Shoar said.

Tobler and the baby hit by the car were taken to Flagler Hospital for treatment. Both were treated and released.

In the past 24 hours, investigators confirmed that the maroon Ford Contour deputies believe Williams used to leave St. Augustine had been stolen. That car was found abandoned on Kenmore Street, just off Norwood Avenue in Northwest Jacksonville.

Shoar said investigators have reason to believe Williams is hiding out in Jacksonville.

Betts said she hasn't heard from her son since the shooting, but she had a message for him, if he was listening.

“Let him know I love him through thick and thin, no matter what,” Betts said. “I'm behind him 100 percent. No matter what, I'm going to be there for my child. You would do the same. Right or wrong, I’m going to still be there for my child.”

Motive uncovered in 1st of 2 killings?

Shoar said investigators have learned that the shooting of Wilson on Rollins Avenue was the result of an ongoing domestic dispute between her and Williams.

“Through some great investigation by our folks, we've been able to determine that that had been going on for a couple of days and had been actually kind of getting intense where we think a couple days before the homicide, there was actually a domestic violence incident,” Shoar said.

He called Williams a “career criminal,” citing his lengthy criminal history, which dates back to 1996.

That history 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.

Shoar said the sheriff’s office is in close contact with the families of those involved, and investigators are getting as much information as possible from them.

"We're all trying to do the same thing. We're trying to bring the people to justice that committed this crime -- the person that committed this crime," Shoar said. "And bring him to justice without anybody else getting hurt."

Shoar said the sheriff's office is still asking for tips from the public and reminds residents not to approach Williams if they see him.

He said to call authorities immediately.