TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Two men suspected of going on a violent criminal mischief spree that resulted in the death of a Clearwater Beach bicyclist, and left another man injured, are now in custody, police said.
Police on Thursday said a second man was arrested in connection with the brutal murder of Jeffrey Chapman.
Chapman, 49, of Clearwater Beach, was riding his bicycle on Mandalay Avenue just after midnight on Oct. 21 when he was randomly beaten to death with a tire iron, according to police.
Police said surveillance video helped them identify the vehicle used in the attack, which was registered to 26-year-old Jermaine Adrian Bennett of Tampa.
Bennett was arrested last month on a charge of first-degree murder. Police said he admitted to hitting Chapman more than 10 times with a tire iron and showed no remorse for the killing.
On Thursday, Deputy Chief Michael Walek held a news conference and announced his 18-year-old accomplice, Savonne Morrison, was arrested.
Police said the teen had pushed Chapman off his bike before Bennett beat him with the weapon.
Morrison, who is from Land O’ Lakes, has a criminal history involving violent crime, and was out on felony probation for armed carjacking, Walek said.
Walek said the pair had set off on a criminal mischief spree the night of the attack, “using the same object that would later become the murder weapon.”
About an hour before Chapman’s killing, they allegedly attacked an elderly man near the Wawa on 22nd Avenue in St. Petersburg, leaving him “battered in the street,” Walek said. That victim was later released from the hospital.
In videos played at Thursday’s news conference, the pair could be seen clubbing multiple vehicles with the tire iron. Police said there were reports of them hitting windows as well.
Authorities revealed Bennett sent Morrison a text message before the spree that said “We are about to get ghetto.”
He later texted him a link to a news story about the murder and said “We did it,” according to police.
“Lol, damn, they shut down Clearwater,” Bennett said in another text, according to police.
Walek said Morrison was arrested on Tuesday and charged with principal to first-degree murder. He was booked into the Pasco County jail and will be moved to the Pinellas jail in the coming days.