Daylight gun slaying shocks residents
Woman watches as her friend, James Dickey, is killed
By TaMaryn Waters
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
Sharlene Palmer was startled by the sound of gunshots Sunday morning as she was watching her two children - a 3-year-old and a 17-month-old - playing in the parking lot outside of a Texas Street apartment.
She said she saw someone shoot her friend twice before running off.
As she relived the moment, she remembered pleading, "Oh Jesus, somebody call the police!"
Tallahassee police arrived at 10:30 a.m. at Sunrise Place Apartments, 2525 Texas St., and found 30-year-old James Dickey motionless on the ground near a construction trailer. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Lt. Ken Bergstrom said police questioned several neighbors and possible witnesses. So far, they have learned that Dickey was standing near the trailer with others when someone walked up and shot him.
Bergstrom said police are not clear about the catalyst for the shooting since no witnesses have come forth saying they heard an argument or have knowledge of a previous disagreement. The shooter was described as a black man in his 20s, wearing a black-hooded sweat shirt, gray jeans and sunglasses.
"We're in the early stages of the investigation," he said Sunday afternoon. "We're pursuing some leads, and we've got some people of interest." Police and others said Dickey was frequently seen at the complex.
This is Tallahassee's third homicide of the year.
Dickey, whose last known address was in the 500 block of Pasco Court, was released on bail from the Leon County Jail on March 4 after being picked up for failure to appear in court for a suspended license. He was previously arrested on charges of cocaine possession and battery three years ago.
Palmer said she grew up with Dickey, and she said she was surprised that the shooting occurred so close to her apartment.
"It's sad about this environment out here. I've got kids, and I'm really scared to be out here," she said.
The housing complex on Tallahassee's south side has had a reputation for serious crimes in the past, Bergstrom said. But he hasn't noticed any dramatic increase in crimes reported recently. He did say that four people were arrested on separate outstanding warrants there Sunday.
"It's no greater or lesser than any other areas of town," he said. "We do have a drug problem in the area, but it's not unusual for drugs to be found in a low-income complex."
Peter Beverly, wearing a royal-blue uniform shirt, was at work when a Sunrise resident called to give him the news. He said he left his job immediately and went to the complex.
Beverly frequently gave Dickey job applications and said he talked to him three days ago. He remembered his longtime friend saying, "I'm trying to get myself together." Beverly said he told him, "The only way you can get yourself together is if you leave the streets."
"I'm upset because I know this cat," Beverly said of his friend.
He gazed at the grassy spot where Dickey's body lay earlier. Police had spread cat box filler to absorb the blood on the ground. There was no crime-scene tape to stop passersby from walking close to the area.
"For somebody to come and take his life like that is just nonsense," Beverly said. "He could have done something with himself."
Part of me feels bad - guy has his life ended like that. On the other hand, part of me says that certain modes of living do not contribute to longevity, and that's the breaks. If he had been down at the labor pool instead of standing around the apartment complex at 10:00 AM, maybe he'd still be alive.
I did find it darkly humorous the juxtaposition of cat and cat litter. And that, according to the officer, all of Tally is just as likely to have drugs, murders, etc.