Police say they have no motive in the slaying of the 19-year-old man. Neighbors report hearing gunshots between 2 and 4 a.m.
By CANDACE RONDEAUX, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 20, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- It might have been two shots that the neighbors heard. It might have been three. All Letha Williams knows is her nephew is dead.
At 6:30 a.m. on Monday, she had only been awake for a little while when her 15-year-old son Kelvin Brown dragged her to the foot of the decaying cypress tree where her nephew, Nelson L. Gary lay dead.
"I didn't know it was him at first because I didn't look at his face," Williams, 35, said.
Brown and a companion found Gary's body near the squat gray wooden house at 1117 12th St. S. while they were on their way to school. "They were pretty broke up about it," Williams said.
According to St. Petersburg police, Gary, 19, had been shot several times in the torso a few hours before his body was discovered.
Police said several neighbors reported hearing shots between 2 and 4 a.m. on Monday, but they are not certain those reports were related to Gary's death.
No charges had been filed late Monday, but police said they were questioning a neighbor, Edward L. Robinson. Robinson lives at 1100 12th St. S., just yards from the grass-covered driveway where Gary's body was discovered.
St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman Rick Stelljes said Robinson has not been charged in connection with Gary's death. Robinson was arrested after admitting to police that he had hidden drugs in the apartment. Police learned he might have information about the shooting, Stelljes said.
According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, Robinson has racked up a string of arrests dating to 1976. He was released on parole in April after serving time in prison on a conviction for felony battery.
A scuffle erupted at the scene Monday when Gary's childhood friend, Tyrese Davis, 19, charged police lines and rushed toward Robinson as he was led to a police car.
"You killed my brother," Davis shouted as officers shoved him to the ground and took him away in handcuffs. Stelljes said Davis was later released and given a summons to appear in court on obstruction charges. "He may have to answer the charges, but police understood he was grieving pretty bad," Stelljes said of Davis.
Police have not pinpointed a motive for the killing.
Relatives said Robinson and Gary had argued several times. Family members said the bad blood between the men started about two years ago when Gary accidentally broke Robinson's car window after running into it during a neighborhood football game. "He (Robinson) was saying last night he was going to kill him if Nelson didn't pay to fix his window," Williams said.
Friends and relatives were still reeling from the news of Gary's death as they gathered in front of his house at 2025 12th St. S. on Monday afternoon.
Though Gary had run-ins with the law as a juvenile, his family remembered him as a quiet, unassuming young man who doted on his 3-month-old son, Nelson Gary III. A landscaper, Gary formerly attended Northeast High School and vocational school.
"That's a good soul just gone. I never knew him to try anything with anyone. He was a good kid taken too young," said Louise Robinson, a friend of the family.