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Domestic call turns deadly in Tampa
A man is found dead, his young wife is missing and the killer is on the loose.
By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published December 8, 2007
Tampa police and residents gather in front of 910 W Sitka St. in Tampa, where George Anthony Stewart Jr., 24, was found shot to death. Stewart's wife, Brittani, 22, and his car are missing.
[Ross Mantle | Times]
Timothy Blackwelder, 24, is suspected in the shooting. Police have issued a first-degree murder and armed burglary warrant for his arrest.
TAMPA - Police responding to a domestic disturbance on Friday found one man shot dead and toddler twins with him, unharmed.
Police identified the victim as George Anthony Stewart Jr., 24. His 22-year-old wife, Brittani, is missing.
Tampa police Cpl. Jared Douds said Stewart called police from 910 W Sitka St. and told them there was trouble at the house, and someone was there with a gun. But by the time officers arrived, he was dead and the killer was gone, along with his wife.
"We don't know the exact circumstances, whether she left on her own or not," said Douds.
Also missing is the Stewarts' car, a 2006 silver Dodge Caravan, with a license tag of 209-IAP.
Brittani Stewart is considered missing and endangered.
Police said late Friday they have issued a first-degree murder and armed burglary warrant for Timothy Blackwelder, 24, of Tampa.
"They know each other," Lt. Brian Dugan said of Blackwelder and the Stewarts.
He said investigators do not know if Brittani Stewart was taken against her will. But Hillsborough court records show that Brittani Stewart asked a judge for a domestic violence injunction against Blackwelder on Nov. 27.
State prison records show that Blackwelder was released Jan. 17 after serving seven years on charges of attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary and grand theft in Hillsborough County.
Stewart's mother, Pamela Sansom, and other family members rushed to the crime scene south of Waters Avenue near North Boulevard when she heard of the shooting, and they wept as officers questioned them about the case.
Sansom, 49, a school bus driver, was on the bus ramp at Adams Middle School this afternoon when she learned of an emergency, said school spokesman Steve Hegarty.
"She was obviously distraught," Hegarty said. "She said 'cover my route,' and she left."
She drove the empty school bus to the crime scene, where it sat with its lights blinking for at least an hour. District employees later picked it up.
"He died loving his children, that's all I can tell you," Sansom said of her son later in a brief telephone interview.
The twins were with their maternal grandmother, she said.
George Stewart's uncle, Virginia resident David Pursell, said he visited Sansom in Lutz last week. "Rocky" is the word he used to describe his nephew's marriage.
"Last I heard they were split up," he said. "She was living with this loser. George had gotten a girlfriend and was basically going on with his life."
Cpl. Douds said George Stewart called the police about 4 p.m. and reported a disturbance at the Sitka Street home, and that someone there had a gun.
SWAT team members, dozens of vehicles and an armored patrol car went to the scene.
By 5:20 p.m., police had closed off most of the street, TV news helicopters fluttered overhead and a crowd of neighbors gathered a block away from where the body was found.
Eddie Davis III, a 13-year-old student at Adams Middle School, was riding a school bus toward his home in the neighborhood as police cars whizzed by to investigate the shooting.
"You could smell the rubber all down the road," Davis said.
Michael Urso, 44, has lived blocks away from where the shooting occurred for 10 years.
"It's a quiet neighborhood," Urso said. "I've never had problems since I've been here."
Researcher John Martin and staff writers Tom Lake and Letitia Stein contributed to this reported. Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813 226-3401.
Tampa police say they are looking for a silver 2006 Dodge Caravan with a license tag of 209 IAP in connection with the shooting of George Stewart. They are also looking for Stewart's wife, 22-year-old Brittani. Anyone with information should call (813) 231-6130.