Shots erupt, then grief

A woman dies when she's hit by a stray bullet in a nightclub. The suspect is on the loose.

By S.I. ROSENBAUM, Times Staff Writer
Published October 18, 2007

BRANDON - Hours after a stray bullet killed a mother of three in a crowded suburban nightclub, investigators named the man they said pulled the trigger.

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies say Tyrone Lamont Grimes, who remains at large, was arguing with a group of men just after 1:15 a.m. Wednesday at the nightclub Fluid. Then, they say, he lost his temper, unloading a silver revolver into a crowd of about 100.

One of the bullets found Karen Williams, 36, of Riverview. She died at the scene, a nightlife outpost in a landscape thick with chain stores and condominiums, southeast of Westfield Brandon mall.

"The victim appears to be an innocent bystander that was hit by one of the bullets," sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Initially, witnesses described the shooter as a heavyset man known by the initials "T.Y."

By afternoon, however, investigators identified "T.Y." as Grimes, of 403 Providence Road, Apt. 206, in Brandon. The 27-year-old has been arrested 13 times, on charges that include felony assault, aggravated battery on a police officer, grand theft and possession of cocaine, state records show.

Investigators ask that anyone with information call 813 247-8200.

Sheriff's Capt. Robert Spooner said he was surprised at the shooting. He said the club has been a hot spot for trouble, drawing 29 calls for service in the last year alone. But he pinned the problems on Fluid's teens-only dance nights, which draw gang members and rowdy youths.

"The weeknight, alcoholic crowd is not nearly the problem as the nonalcoholic teenager night," he said.

Originally known as Harpo's, then Club Quench Bartini, Fluid is a big-box building between Wendy's and Border's at 2016 Town Center Blvd.

Tampa Bay hip-hop artist Black Reign was scheduled to perform at the club about 10 p.m., according to his MySpace.com page.

A sign in front of the club advertises a Tuesday night birthday bash.

Wednesday, as deputies searched for Grimes, Williams' family mourned her.

Her uncle, David Walker, an associate pastor at St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church, said his phone rang at 3:30 a.m.

He went first to the club where his niece died, then contacted other family members.

"I just couldn't believe it," he said. "It couldn't have happened. I'm still thinking someone is going to come around the corner and tell me she's all right."

It was rare for Williams to hit the nightclub, he said. Getting her to go out, he said, was "like pulling teeth."

Growing up in Belmont Heights, Williams was a smart kid who never had to study for a test, said her sister, Remeka Taylor.

Taylor couldn't remember how old Williams was when she started to sing. It was something that came to her naturally, Taylor said.

"It was an untainted gift," Taylor said. "She didn't learn it. It was a God-given talent. ... She could hit notes you never knew were there to hit."

Williams grew up to be a caring mother, Taylor said, parenting two children of her own and a stepson - Dillon, 8, Taelor, 15, and Glenn, 17.

She had planned an elaborate "Sweet 16" weekend for Taelor's coming birthday in December. Her sister said the family plans to carry out those plans as she would have wanted.

She worked as a supervisor at a workers' compensation company, her sister said, but she never stopped singing.

"She had a voice like an angel," said her uncle, Walker. "It just made you know there was a God when she finished a song."

S.I. Rosenbaum can be reached at srosenbaum@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2442. Staff researcher Angie Holan and staff writers Jan Wesner, Abbie VanSickle, Ben Montgomery, Catherine Shoichet and Casey Cora contributed to this report.