Leoninas Williams Jr., nicknamed “Keam,” was shot and killed Feb. 4 as he drove around in his car live streaming video on Facebook.
Jeff Burlew, Tallahassee Democrat
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A Tallahassee man was streaming live video from his car on Facebook earlier this year when a person or persons unknown opened fire on him, killing him almost instantly.
Leoninas Williams Jr., 29, a father of three, nicknamed “Keam,” was shot multiple times the night of Feb. 4 as he drove his red Honda Accord around Sunrise Place Apartments on Texas Street.
It was the second fatal shooting in Tallahassee within a seven-month span that was streamed live on social media. Newly released court records show 16-year-old Josh Purcell was live on Instagram when he was shot and killed last July in the parking lot of Bethel AME Church.
More recent shooting news: Tallahassee police make arrest in fatal shooting of 16-year-old boy in church parking lot
The Tallahassee Police Department released few details in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. However, investigators recently shared more information with the Tallahassee Democrat about the case and announced an increase in the reward leading to the arrest of those responsible.
“His family and friends are wanting justice for him,” said TPD Investigator Cameron Collins. “That’s why this reward has been increased thanks to the help of the Attorney General’s Office and Big Bend Crime Stoppers.”
The reward now stands at $9,500, including $5,000 from Big Bend Crime Stoppers, which has classified the shooting as a “cold case.” An extra $4,500 available through June from the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers and the Florida Attorney General.
Williams’ violent death devastated his large family, which includes 20 siblings in Tallahassee and DeLand, where he grew up. His father, Sam Jenkins, a Tallahassee truck driver, was delivering a load of goods in Tampa when he got the news from another of his sons.
“Keam got shot,” his son said. “No, I doubt it,” Jenkins replied, “because I just spoke to his younger brothers and they were waiting to have dinner with him.”
“Pop, it happened,” his son insisted. “It was on Facebook Live. You need to log on to Facebook.”
When Jenkins signed on, the video feed was still live from inside his son’s car, now stationary outside the Texas Street apartment complex. All Jenkins could see was the steering wheel and dashboard. But he could overhear police — who he assumed didn’t know about the live video yet — at the scene.
“I heard the detectives talking,” Jenkins said. “They said it was overkill. They said whoever did it, they meant to kill him. They were there to do just what they did. They were there to kill him.”
‘A whole bunch of gunfire’
Officers were in the area when the shooting occurred around 7:30 p.m. They found Williams dead behind the wheel of his car, which was shot up with bullet holes.
Investigators later learned that perhaps 10 or 15 minutes before the shooting, Williams went live on Facebook, driving around South City with his cellphone in his hand and looking for someone he had a beef with.
The video was up long enough that many of his friends got notifications and started watching and sharing it and posting comments. Facebook pulled the video for content before police could see it, according to investigators.
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TPD has since subpoenaed Facebook for a copy of the video. Police don’t know whether it captured the actual shooting, though some of Williams’ friends told his family that it did.
“He was out there looking for someone, and we do know he was being slightly aggressive on the video,” said TPD Investigator Sherrie Bennett. “We’ve gotten multiple different accounts of what it shows. Until we get all of it to know what it shows, we don’t want to put that out there right yet.”
Jenkins only saw the end of the video. When he realized everyone on Facebook could hear police discussing the case, he called TPD to alert officers. Not long after, the live feed stopped.
“One detective asked the other detective whether it was a robbery gone bad or a drug deal gone bad,” Jenkins said. “And they were like no, because he had money on him. And the officer said he had a handgun in his pocket that he never touched.”
Jenkins said friends of his son who saw the shooting unfold on Facebook described two different bursts of gunfire.
“He was sitting in his car and all they heard were gunshots,” Jenkins said. “And he fell over, and the car rolled down … and hit an embankment. And he was gasping for air, trying to breathe. And next thing you know, there was just a whole bunch of gunfire. Somebody just started shooting the car up.”
‘Hard for all of us’
Williams was working at a local Zaxby’s at the time of the shooting and trying to turn his life around. In August 2017, he was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell after police pulled him over and found 76 grams of pot in the backseat and more than $3,000 in cash in his pockets.
He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. He was released Oct. 20, less than four months before his murder. Jenkins said he heard rumors before the arrest that his son was dealing drugs and tried to caution him against it.
“He said he had to do what he had to do for his kids,” Jenkins said. “His whole thing was he wanted to provide a life for his kids that he didn’t have. He spent most of his free time with his kids, taking them shopping, taking them to the zoo, just being a perfect dad.”
Investigators said they don’t believe the shooting involved drugs or a robbery or the individual Williams was trying to find. Police have no suspects.
“We have an idea as to what happened,” Bennett said. “We have an idea as to how many subjects were involved, things that we don’t want to release as of yet. It appears to be a kind of altercation.”
The family had a graveside service for Williams in his hometown of DeLand. His obituary noted that he “loved music, FSU Football Team, his family, and had a special love for his children.”
Jenkins said the loss hit his kids particularly hard.
“They’re still trying to cope with it,” he said. “It’s hard for all of us really.”
How to help
Anyone with information about the shooting death of Leoninas Williams Jr. is asked to call TPD at 850-891-4200 or the anonymous Crime Stoppers line at 850-570 TIPS (8477). Tips can also be reported anonymously online at http://bbcsi.org.
Contact Jeff Burlew at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.
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