In the back of a police car, two people commiserated.
One wondered if their marijuana dealer would get in trouble.
No, police reports say the other answered, “someone got hit.”
That’s the conversation that Plant City police say contributed to Saturday’s arrest of Abel Cruz Dimas, 18, of Lakeland, accused of firing shots that killed one and hospitalized another.
Police say the fatal shooting was one of two unrelated incidents that left three people reported dead in the same Plant City neighborhood in a single day.
On Saturday morning, police say Dimas gunned down Laronia Fay Bowers and injured a man outside a home in the 800 block of E Laura Street.
Later that night, a discovery revealed two bodies just blocks away inside a home at 506 E Ohio St. Police say it was a homicide, but haven’t provided details.
Two of the deceased victims — one from each case — were best friends, according to family members.
Bowers’ cousin, Retta Ragins, gave this account Sunday of the deadly day:
Bowers knocked at her best friend’s door that morning, but nobody answered. She told this to her friend’s relative before going down to E Laura Street.
That tip resulted in family members checking the best friend’s house and later calling police.
Bowers stopped on E Laura Street to chat with a small gathering of friends, including the father of her grown children.
But there, a drug deal had gone bad, Ragins said. Shots came from the alley, and Bowers was caught in their paths.
“She just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Ragins, 41, of Lakeland.
Bowers, 51, died. A 59-year-old man police identified as Edward Eugene Mincey also sustained shots to the chest and was taken to a hospital. Police did not say where he had been hospitalized and would not release his condition on Saturday or Sunday.
Witnesses said they saw a maroon Chevrolet sport utility vehicle fleeing the scene. Police located and stopped the SUV within minutes, about 3 miles away on State Road 574 near Burchwood Park.
Dimas was the front-seat passenger, an arrest affidavit said.
Plant City police put Dimas and another person from the SUV into the back of the patrol car. That’s when they started talking about the shooting, the arrest affidavit said, and apparently the conversation was monitored.
According to the affidavit, the other man, who was not identified, told Dimas he “hit” the wrong person.
Dimas said he was told to look for “the one with the black jacket with the blue shirt,” the affidavit states. But the other person said “they all had black on.”
Police did not elaborate, but said the shooting did not appear to be a random attack.
Dimas faces charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder. He was being held Sunday in a Hillsborough County jail without bail.
Jail records list Dimas as a gang member who goes by the alias “Big Bird.” He was previously arrested by Plant City police in October on charges of burglary and grand theft of a motor vehicle. According to state records, Dimas was also arrested as a juvenile and accused of marijuana possession.
Plant City police released little information about the second incident discovered Saturday.
They discovered the slaying Saturday night during a welfare check at 506 E Ohio St., where family members say Bowers’ best friend Faye Kitchen lived. Unable to make contact with a resident there, police entered the home and found two bodies.
Police have not identified the victims, but family members at the scene Saturday told a St. Petersburg Times reporter they believed one was Kitchen, who lived at that address.
Police have not announced causes of death or any suspects in the Ohio Street case.
St. Petersburg Times