Lee County Sheriff's Office crime scene personnel gather evidence Sunday (10/26/2008) from the scene of a double homicide in Lehigh Acres. / KINFAY MOROTI/news-press.com
Fonnate James, 27, has been charged with two counts of second degree murder for allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend, Brittany Ervin and Shaniqua Williams, in Lehigh Acres on Saturday. / Special to news-press.com
Double homicide in Lehigh Acres
Tears streak the face of C.J. McClain outside the scene Saturday of a double fatal shooting in Lehigh Acres. McClain's mother is a best friend of one of the victims. / John David Emmett/news-press.com
8:50 p.m. update
Relatives of two women who were gunned down in a Lehigh Acres home in front of 11 children were trying to cope with their loss Sunday.
Shaniqua Williams, 22, and Brittany Ervin, 23, were gunned down dead by Ervin's ex-boyfriend Saturday afternoon, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said.
Lee County sheriff's deputies have charged Ervin's ex-boyfriend, Fonnate James, 27, of Naples, with the slayings. The pair had been together for three years.
James burst into the house, located at 1509 Gilbert Ave., through the front bedroom window and began shooting, according the sheriff's office. He went to the master bedroom where he shot Williams and Ervin.
James missed a third person in the room, the sheriff's office said. That person was Williams' friend who was visiting for the weekend. James pointed the gun at a fourth person in the room, a 14-year-old girl, said Charles Porter III, the father of Williams' three children.
None of the children in the house was hurt.
Maedean Ervin, Brittany Ervin's mother was despondent Sunday, talking about her daughter, who she said was "a good girl and a good person, a humble person."
All Ervin would say about her daughter's relationship with James was that it was in the past.
Jeanette Porter was Shaniqua Williams' childrens' grandmother.
She said her granddaughter was a good person. The young woman had had some trouble finding a new job in Lehigh Acres after she lost her post at the K-Mart in Fort Myers.
"We're trying to hold up together," she said. "I'm just trying to keep myself from falling down."
Porter said William's three children were on their way to their home with their father, Charlie Porter Jr. today.
"We're all family and we all need some comforting right now," she said. "We might split them between the families we don't know. I'm leaving it up to my son."
Neighbors of Shaniqua Williams said that police cars were nothing new to the house.
Barbaro Cesnero and his wife, Janis, have lived on the street for two years and said there were police cars at the residence two other times in the past month.
"Every so often their kids would play outside," Cesnero said.
From today's editions of The News-Press: Ex charged in Lehigh double homicide
Fonnate James, 27, has been charged with two counts of 2nd degree murder for allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend, Brittany Ervin and Shaniqua Williams, in Lehigh Acres on Saturday.
According to witness accounts in an update from the Lee County Sheriff's Office, James arrived at the Gilbert Avenue South residence and smashed out the front bedroom window.
He entered through the window and began shooting at the occupants until he reached the master bedroom where he shot the two victims, missing a third then pointing the gun at a fourth.
He proceeded to another bedroom where the door was held closed by one of the witnesses.
Unable to force the door open, James fired two shots, kicked the door open and forced the witness out.
He proceeded to rip the telephones from the wall and demanded the remaining occupants throw their cell phones on the floor where he smashed them.
While attempting to leave the home, he ordered the remaining occupants to Ervin’s car parked in the driveway and was walking to the vehicle as Sheriff’s Office patrol units were arriving. They then retreated back inside the residence.
As deputies approached the home, an apparent blood trail led to the front door. A couple of the witnesses were instructed to respond to the deputies at gunpoint.
After further inquiry the door was opened and Fonnate came out with his hands in the air and surrendered.
James and Ervin had recently ended a three-year relationship.
He has also been charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary of a dwelling and shooting in to a dwelling.
From today's edition of the News-Press
Two women were killed Saturday when deputies say a man crashed through a window of the Lehigh Acres home where his ex-girlfriend was staying and shot her and a friend, blood splattering the 11 people, most children, who looked on.
Lee County sheriff's deputies arrived at the home on Gilbert Avenue South around 2:30 p.m. to respond to a burglary in progress. Instead they found the bodies of the two women, identified by friends and family as Shaniqua Williams, 21, and Brittany Ervin, inside the duplex. The identities of victims have not confirmed by the Lee County Sheriff's Office pending outcome of the investigation.
Three of the witnesses to the shooting were Williams' children, who friends say are ages 2, 3 and 4. Some of the others were Williams' young relatives, who were known to stay at the home on weekends. All 11 were taken to the sheriff's office for questioning.
The man suspected in the shooting, James Fonnate, 27, of Naples, was taken into custody at the home. He was not armed when taken into custody, said Sgt. Larry King, sheriff's spokesman, but the gun used was later recovered. Fonnate has yet to be charged.
Fonnate had previously threatened Ervin, his ex-girlfriend, said Sarah Zimmerman, a friend of both victims. Zimmerman said his threats got so bad that at one point Ervin had gone to Naples to stay with family.
A reason why Williams was shot as well has yet to be released by deputies.
"He threatened to shoot up the house a few weekends ago," Zimmerman said.
Fonnate was involved in a domestic violence lawsuit with Ervin that was filed Oct. 13, according to Collier County court records, but it was dismissed after a hearing last Wednesday.
As investigators began interviewing neighbors and examining evidence, family and friends of Williams and Ervin arrived after hearing the women were dead. They stood on the streets, some talking anxiously on cell phones, others crying quietly. The family declined to comment to news reporters at the scene.
Charlie Porter, the father of Williams' three children, paced the street, pulling at his clothes.
"My kids are motherless," he repeated over and over. "Their mother's gone."
Shirley Williams, Shaniqua Williams' mother, used a yellow washcloth to wipe tears, pleading with deputies to let her see her daughter's body.
"Where my grandbabies at?" she asked soon after she'd arrived, and others assured her they were safe.
The shooting, which brings the homicide count investigated by the sheriff's office to 27 this year, is at least the fourth homicide in Lee County this year in which a woman has been shot by a man with whom she has been romantically involved. This includes the death of Christine Lozier Dunn, who police say was shot and killed by her estranged ex-husband Robert Dunn at the Bobbie Noonan day care center in Cape Coral in January, and Debrena Walker, whose ex-boyfriend was arrested for her shooting death at her home in North Fort Myers in February.
The third was Jacqueline Deleon, who, according to deputies, was shot by her husband Ruben Deleon in North Fort Myers in May.
Zimmerman expressed shock and dismay anyone would do that to Williams, the woman she loved like a sister. She remembered also her commitment to the children, including some of Zimmerman's own.
"Every weekend she made sure they were with her," Zimmerman said.