2 St. Petersburg mothers were killed within a week — by the same man, police say

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ST. PETERSBURG — In the spring, two mothers were shot and killed within a week of each other.

Soon after the first murder on March 30 of K’Mia Simmons, St. Petersburg police arrested Tyron Jackasal, 21. But the second murder of Emily Grot on April 4 remained unsolved — until Wednesday.

Once again, the investigation pointed detectives to Jackasal, according to arrest documents. He now faces a charge of second-degree murder in Grot’s death. That’s on top of another second-degree murder charge in Simmons’ death and an attempted murder charge stemming from the same shooting that killed Grot.

Detectives don’t believe the shootings were related, aside from the person who is accused of carrying them out, said police spokesperson Ken Knight. But the similarities are striking. Grot, 35, and Simmons, 21, were both mothers of two children and were shot in cars, and police don’t believe either woman was Jackasal’s intended target.

The arrest report in Grot’s murder included new details about her death. At about 10:50 p.m. Easter Sunday, Grot was sitting in the passenger seat of a car in the parking lot of Wildwood Park at 1000 28th Street S, according to the report. Jackasal pulled a gun and fired at the rear passenger door of the car. The bullet traveled through the door, then through the front passenger seat, striking Grot in the back.

The bullet recovered from Grot’s body was determined to have come from a 9mm handgun, the report says. Detectives found multiple 9mm shell casings in the parking lot and swabbed some of them. A Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory analysis determined the sample to match Jackasal’s DNA profile. Multiple witnesses also saw Jackasal with a gun in the area that night, the report says.

Jackasal also shot and injured a man and a 17-year-old girl, according to police. The department hasn’t released the names of the injured. The victim referenced in Jackasal’s attempted murder arrest is identified only by the initials “C.H.”

In Simmons’ case, police said Jackasal had been aiming for someone else when he fired at a Volvo, killing Simmons, who was holding her 1-year-old child. Her other child, a 2-year-old, was in the backseat at the time. Jackasal’s target was Parise Lovett Jr., the father of the younger child and an associate of a man Jackasal shot and stole a $30,000 gold necklace from in March, police said.

In that incident, Jackasal faces charges of attempted murder in the first degree, armed robbery and delinquent in possession of a firearm. He has been held without bail in the Pinellas County jail since police arrested him on those charges April 5.

All of his cases were pending Thursday. Court records show his lawyer, Jonathan Hackworth, asked a judge to appoint experts to evaluate Jackasal’s competency to stand trial, which the judge agreed to. The results of that evaluation were not yet available Thursday. If experts find him to be incompetent, he will be sent to a mental health facility for treatment until his competency is restored.

Hackworth could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.