CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - A brutal overnight shooting in Clearwater claimed the life of a 31-year-old father.
Clearwater Police say Bernard "Tony" Richards was shot 17 times by someone friends and family say he called a friend.
Jaikkel Longworth said her fiancé, Richards, had dropped by the home of longtime friend Arthur Roy on the 1500 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Saturday evening. For unknown reasons, the two men began to argue. Witnesses say it appeared Richards was trying to walk away from the fight. As he crossed MLK Ave., employees in a nearby convenience store say Roy followed Richards.
Eugene Wise, a Stop-N-Shop employee, says he had little time to react before chaos unfolded just beyond the store's front doors. Wise says he heard gunfire from a nearby home. Two women ran into the store telling employees someone was shooting outside. When Wise looked out the window, he says he saw Roy and Richards shouting at each other and coming toward the store. Fearing the worst, Wise says employees locked the store's front doors.
Moments later, shots rang out.
"We couldn't take the chance because there were people in the store. Everyone could have been hurt," said Wise. "It was scary. I hid behind the ice machine. There were people hiding all through the store because we didn't know which way the bullets was coming and that glass isn't bulletproof so everybody ducked down in the store and hid."
Clearwater Police say Roy continued shooting Richards as he lay bleeding on the ground, then kicked his lifeless body.
"He stood right over top of him and was firing bullets," said Wise. "The whole clip he laid out right over top of him."
Store employees say after the shooting stopped, Roy simply walked back across the street to the home where he lives, as if nothing had happened.
"Walking. Not even running. Walking," said Wise.
Friends and family say the two men had been friends for more than a decade, and are struggling to understand why Roy would shoot Richards 17 times.
"[Richards] was leaving and [Roy] followed him all the way to the store. For what?" Longworth, who is five months pregnant, said through tears. "He knows he has a baby on the way so he's not going to put himself in harm's way. He tried to walk away."
Roy was arrested early Sunday morning and faces first degree murder charges.
Richards leaves behind a fiancé and four children. To help the Richards family with funeral expenses, you can donate on their GoFundMe page.