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Carjacking ends with suspect and victim dead

Gregory Williams was found dead inside his pickup. Nearby, a man matching the carjacker's description killed himself in front of his aunt.

By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER
Published June 8, 2005


  photo
[Williams family photo (2004)]
Gregory Williams, 43, was killed early Tuesday by a carjacker.
Terah Hanna's aunt said he had on a Jheri-curl style wig and a T-shirt over his face when he killed himself, like the man accused of a carjacking.

TAMPA - Eleven years after a drunken driver pinned him between two cars and severed his legs, Gregory Kirk Williams lived as independently as he could. He used hand levers to drive his white 1998 Chevy pickup truck, a four-wheel testament to his determination.

Police say Williams was sitting inside that truck early Tuesday when an armed man wearing a Jheri-curl style wig carjacked him, pushing Williams into the passenger's seat of the truck and driving north as he threatened him with a gun.

The carjacker abandoned the truck minutes later at the intersection of 15th Street and Sligh Ave. When rescue workers arrived, Williams, a 43-year-old father of two, was dead inside. He had been shot, according to police.

It was 12:30 a.m., half an hour after June 6, the 11th anniversary of the day Williams lost his legs.

Police have yet to make an arrest, and they say they might never be able to.

At 12:40 a.m. Tuesday, a man matching the description of the carjacker shot himself in the head as he stood on his aunt's doorstep at 1909 E Crenshaw St., Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

The beige ranch house where 34-year-old Terah Hanna committed suicide is less than a mile from the intersection where the carjacker abandoned Williams' truck.

"I opened the door and he was standing there with his head down," said Hanna's aunt, Cynthia Brown, 59. "He said "Auntie, I love you.'

"Then he pulled the trigger," Brown said. "I just slammed the door and ran for the phone."

* * *

At 12:15 a.m., the man in the wig walked up to a group of men at 2705 E Hanna Ave., a large property that houses a few auto body and car repair shops.

Williams and his friends sometimes gathered there to play cards and pass the time, McElroy said.

The man, with a T-shirt covering part of his face, demanded money and fired several shots into the air. He walked over to Williams, who was sitting in hi s pickup. The man pushed Williams into the passenger's seat, got behind the wheel and took off, McElroy said.

Shots were fired as the pickup drove northwest toward the intersection of 15th Street and Sligh Avenue, where it stopped. McElroy said detectives are trying to sort out whether some of the shots came from Williams, who might have been armed.

"There may have been a shootout between the two inside the truck," McElroy said.

By the time rescue workers got to the truck, Williams was dead. The carjacker was gone.

A short time later, Brown heard a knock at her front door, according to police.

She looked at a clock. It was 12:40 a.m.

She opened the door. It was her nephew. She told police he wore a Jheri-curl wig, and had a T-shirt covering part of his face. He cast his eyes to the ground.

Auntie, I love you , he said. Then he turned a gun on himself and pulled the trigger.

"It happened so fast," Brown said Tuesday as she sat outside her home. "It was just seconds."

McElroy said Hanna died of the gunshot wound to his head, but also had a bullet wound in his chest. Investigators are trying to determine if Hanna was the carjacker - and whether the chest wound resulted from a struggle with Williams, she said.

McElroy said that while the description of the carjacker matches what Hanna wore when he committed suicide, "there are some inconsistencies in the sequence of events."

Williams' father said he does not know if his son had a gun. State records show he does not have a concealed weapons permit. But Al Williams, 68, said it would be just like his son to fight until the end.

That strong will is what got him through his recovery after the crash, the elder Williams said.

It happened along Interstate 4 near Orient Road, where a drunken driver veered along the side of the road as Williams was putting gas into his car.

"But it never fazed him," his father said. "He did everything he possibly wanted to. He did it all by himself."

* * *

Williams and Hanna were both middle-aged men who grew up in Tampa. They were both fathers. Loved ones say they were working hard to be successful.

Williams, a King High graduate, ran D & G Auto Detailing, a car wash and detailing shop around the corner from the east Tampa house where his parents raised him and his two brothers. He got around the neighborhood in his motorized wheelchair.

He loved football, playing cards and watching auto racing.

After the accident, Williams' father and brothers spent five years building him a race car outfitted with levers so he could drive it.

Williams' daughter Serena Williams, 23, graduated from the University of South Florida last fall. Deja Williams, 15, goes to Plant City High School and lives in Plant City with her mother, Williams' ex-wife Jeanie Sherease Burnett.

Hanna dropped out of Jefferson High but later earned his GED, said his aunt. His criminal history includes a 1994 arrest on attempted murder and robbery charges. Records show the case was dismissed.

He was sentenced to four years' probation following a 1997 conviction for drug possession. His most recent arrest came in April, on a contempt of court warrant stemming from a paternity suit.

But Hanna was taking classes at Hillsborough Community College and had plans to enroll at USF in the fall, according to his mother, Irish Hanna.

Hanna and longtime girlfriend Nicole Grigsby had a son, 5-year-old Dylan. Hanna recently moved out of their Lutz apartment to live with his aunt, said Grigsby, 24.

He was sending out applications, but he didn't have a job.

"He wanted to be a Realtor. But he was just going through a lot lately," Grigsby said. "He was going to school and trying to take care of us."

--Staff researcher Carolyn Edds and staff writers Brady Dennis and Brian White contributed to this report. Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at 813 226-3373 or svansickler@sptimes.com

[Last modified June 8, 2005, 01:06:11]


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