Shooting spree video released, victims' families speak out

8:13 PM, Feb 15, 2010   |    comments
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Andre Watkins' booking photo after an alleged shooting spree and carjacking.

Tampa, Florida - "Andre has been failed by society. Andre has been screaming for help for a long time."

That was part of a statement Andre Watkins' attorney released from his family. The man accused of a shooting spree last week has retained attorney Dominic Fariello.

Fariello says he's represented Watkins in previous arrests and will be at his side Tuesday morning during the continuation of his first appearance before a judge. Watkins faces a list of charges, including first degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, kidnapping and carjacking.

During his first appearance in court Sunday morning, Watkins appeared wearing a spit hood, leg irons and cuffs. He yelled obscenities at the judge when asked if he would be using a public defender.

Fariello asks the public and media not to prejudge Watkins. But that offers little comfort to the victims and their families from Friday's shooting spree.

"Kind of shocked, traumatized. We're trying to control our emotions," says Nadir Alwani. His father Akbar is recovering from a gun shot wound to the stomach. He is at St. Joseph's Hospital listed in critical condition.

Hillsborough deputies say Watkins shot 57-year-old Akbar Alwani a store clerk in the BP station on Linebaugh and Anderson Friday evening while customers watched. A surveillance video released by the store owner Bobby Ali shows a man who appears to be Watkins walking into the store.

Ali says customers heard him ask for a pack of cigarettes and then confronts Alwani the store clerk.

"He says to Akbar, 'You been talking bad about me.' Akbar says 'Huh?' Then the man pulls out the gun and shoots him," says Ali. "There was no robbery, no argument. Just a random act of violence."

Ali says Watkins shot his employee as other customers in the store watched. In the surveillance video, Alwani remains calm after the shooting and even calls 911 for help.

The connection between Alwani and Watkins is unclear. Alwani's boss says Watkins may have been a customer. Alwani's son says his father does know another of Watkins' alleged victims, 27-year-old Ariel Love. He is a frequent customer.

Deputies say Watkins shot Love in the chest after he opened the door to his parents' home. Love's father Fred Watson tells reporters he believes he was the intended target, not his son. Love is at St. Joseph's Hospital listed in fair condition.

Watson says he used to cut Watkins mother's lawn nearby. Watson filed assault charges against Watkins in 2008. Watson says Watkins pulled a gun on him three times, but fearing retribution, he had the charges dropped. He says since then, he's been living in fear.

Watson says he would often see Watkins around the neighborhood, at the gas station the grocery store as if he were stalking him.

Watson believes Watkins had a mental list of who he was targeting Friday night, starting with the two men he shot at in the car who managed to flee. A 19-year-old woman in the car died at the scene. Watson says Watkins then came looking for him but shot his son instead.

After the shooting of the store clerk at the BP station, deputies say Watkins went to Bruce Jackson's home two doors down from his own. Jackson is Watson's cousin. Deputies say Watkins chased Jackson out of his front yard while shooting at him. Jackson got away.

Watson says he told the judge two years ago Watkins was going to do something bad someday. "He's walking hand in hand with the devil now," says Watson.

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