ST. PETERSBURG — A person of interest in the homicides of two men in southern St. Petersburg is in custody, police said.
Detectives identified a man in the fatal shootings and took him into custody Wednesday evening with the help of the Tampa Police Department and the FBI, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department. He was being held in a Hillsborough County jail on charges unrelated to the shootings, police said.
Police did not release the man’s name or age and said no other new details were available while the investigation continued Thursday.
Vernon Williams, 60, died early Sunday of a gunshot wound in the 900 block of Melrose Avenue South. The second man, Corlenzo Williams, 24, was shot and killed early Tuesday morning in the 2900 block of 17th Avenue South — about two miles away from where Vernon was killed.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, police Chief Anthony Holloway said investigators believe both men were walking when they were approached by an unknown male in an unknown vehicle. Holloway said they think the suspect had a brief conversation with each man before shooting him.
A possible third victim came forward Tuesday and told police he was approached by a man in a vehicle who may have been the suspect. The two had a conversation, but then he noticed a weapon in the man’s vehicle and he ran, according to Holloway. The incident happened just a few blocks from where Corlenzo Williams was shot, the police chief said.
Holloway would not comment on the content of the conversation the man had with the driver of the vehicle. He said investigators needed to continue gathering evidence before determining if one person is responsible for the three incidents.
Investigators had not found anything that would link Vernon Williams and Corlenzo Williams to each other, or any evidence that would link either of them to the man who came forward Tuesday, Holloway said. None appear to have been robbed, he said, and there is no known motive at this time.
Investigators were knocking on doors in the area of the killings and talking to people to see if anyone saw anything pertaining to any of the three incidents, Holloway said. Federal, state and local law enforcement partners are assisting in the case, he added.
Police did not have clear video of the suspect or the vehicle the suspect was driving, Holloway said. He called on members of the public who might have any video footage taken in the area of the crime scenes during the time of the shootings — including surveillance footage and video taken from doorbell cameras such as Ring — to contact the department so that officers can view it.
Video footage also could link a suspect to all three incidents, he said.
Holloway advised that anyone walking in the early morning or late hours of the day be cautious. If a male driving a vehicle stops you, do not approach the car and walk away, he said.
Crime Stoppers was offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in either fatal shooting. Anyone with information can call 800-873-TIPS.