Man threatens woman, gets out of jail, then kills her brother, Clearwater police say

Jack Evans, Tampa Bay Times
·3 min read

CLEARWATER — A 19-year-old man was bailed out of jail weeks before police say he shot and killed one person and wounded three others when he opened fire on a car on U.S. 19.

Derriontae Ward was arrested Feb. 16 in an aggravated assault case, records show. The shooting took place March 8, and Ward was arrested Wednesday on murder and attempted murder charges in that case.

Ward’s arrests are linked: The 18-year-old killed in the shooting is the brother of the woman who was the victim in the earlier aggravated assault case, according to court records.

Ward is among “a small band of criminals” responsible for a recent rise in gun violence, Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter said in a statement. Police said the city has seen seven shootings since December.

“There will be more arrests,” Slaughter said.

In the Feb. 16 incident, according to court records and police, a car containing four people — a 20-year-old woman, her 1-year-old son, her mother and a driver — pulled up in front of a house on La Salle Street in Clearwater.

Ward was sitting in front of the house, witnesses said, then stood and approached the car while holding a gun. He pointed it at the car, and all the adults in the car got out. An argument ensued, and the 20-year-old woman told police that Ward pointed the gun at her and threatened to pistol whip her.

Ward was arrested and freed from the Pinellas County jail two days later after posting $10,000 bail. He was required to wear a GPS ankle monitor.

Then on March 8, police said, a car with four occupants left a restaurant and was traveling south on the U.S. 19 access road just north of Drew Street. One of those in the car, 18-year-old Ivon Cobbs, was the brother of the woman Ward was accused of pointing a gun at in February, police said Thursday.

As the car approached Drew Street, police said another car pulled alongside it and someone inside fired more than a dozen gunshots at the four occupants. Cobbs was killed, police said, and the other three were hospitalized.

Ward’s ankle monitor placed him at both the restaurant and the scene of the March 8 shooting, according to investigators. The next day, police said he cut it off.

He was arrested late Wednesday at a relative’s home in Largo, police said. In the March 8 shooting, Ward faces a first-degree murder charge and three counts of attempted murder in that case, records show. He also faces a charge of tampering with an electronic device for cutting off his GPS device, police said.

In the Feb. 16 incident, Ward also faces charges of aggravated assault with a firearm. In other open court cases, he faces felony charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of a crash, after police said he stole a car, wrecked it and ran away in November, as well as a pair of felony burglary charges from incidents that police said also took place last year.

Ward was back in the Pinellas County jail on Thursday, being held without bail.