W - High Springs Shooting columbia

HIGH SPRINGS – Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter announced Sunday that deputies of the U.S. Marshals Service had captured Willie J. Wingfield III, 21, of Ft. White, at the home of a family member in Daytona Beach late Sunday afternoon.

Wingfield was wanted for questioning in connection with the shooting of two men in the parking lot outside of the Santa Fe Bar, 23731 U.S. Hwy 441, High Springs, early the previous morning.

According to Hunter, no one was injured in the capture.

The Santa Fe Bar is on Columbia County’s side of the Santa Fe River.

The men reportedly had a heated argument outside the bar after closing time, said Third Circuit State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister. During the exchange, Wingfield pulled out a gun and began firing, deputies said. “Once the first man was shot, another came to help him” and was also shot, Seigmeister said.

The shooter and several witnesses left the scene before the police arrived. Wingfield was immediately identified as a person of interest and his photo was released to the public.

High Springs Police Department officers and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the disturbance call, which was made around 1 a.m. Saturday.

High Springs Police Department officers Jamey Yakubsin and Kendrick Hampton were first on the scene at 1:09 a.m. They performed first aid on the victims, according to High Springs Police Chief Steve Holley. Columbia County Sheriff’s Office deputies, in whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, arrived and pronounced Dennis Lamont Smith, 38, and Erik Antonio Akins, 24, both of Ft. White, as dead.

Holley said Columbia County Sheriff’s Office deputies were in the northern part of the county when the disturbance call came in. Their department called High Springs Police for mutual aid at 1:08 a.m., realizing High Springs Police would be closer and able to respond more quickly to the scene.

Officer Yakubsin happened to be at a nearby convenience store and Officer Hampton was also nearby. Both received the call on the radio at the same time they heard from other sources that a shooting had just happened. “They were able to be on the scene within one minute,” Holley said.

Once Columbia County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, officers Yakubsin and Hampton stepped aside and allowed Columbia County to take control of the scene, Holley said.

Detectives and investigators from the sheriff’s office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement were on the scene until around 11 a.m., Saturday, collecting evidence and conducting forensic analysis throughout the night.

Wingfield was taken into custody the following afternoon by the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Task Force with the assistance of U.S. Marshals from Gainesville, Orlando and Jacksonville. He is being charged with two counts of homicide.

The Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office assisted in Wingfield’s arrest.

Wingfield has a previous arrest record on drug-related charges from last March. He is being charged with two counts of homicide. His criminal record includes arrests for grand theft auto, fleeing police, battery on an employee at a detention facility and cocaine possession, according to records from the Florida Department of Corrections. He has served previous prison terms and listed an address in Daytona Beach when he was released in 2011.    

“I am extremely proud of the efforts that went into this investigation, from all of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office employees, citizens of Columbia County, and the multiple agencies that were able to assist in bringing this investigation to a close so quickly,” said Sheriff Mark Hunter.

Anyone with additional information for the investigation can contact the Columbia County’s Sheriff’s Office detectives at 386-719-2005.

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