SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Sarasota woman has been charged with murdering a man on New Year’s Day after a fight broke out, a police release said.
The Sarasota Police Department said Latoya Johnson, 37, shot a man shortly before 1:45 a.m. after getting into a fight with his family.
Police said the altercation happened when the victim, who was not identified per Marsy’s Law, and his family were sitting on an outside patio of a business on Main Street. It was at this time that Johnson and a group of people were sitting together at a table inside the business, as seen in surveillance video.
According to Sarasota PD, one of the family members had been intoxicated, walked inside, and got “sick on” one of the people sitting with Johnson.
The group of people then got up and began fighting the family member. Police said Johnson was seen on video holding a black gun and kicking people on the ground.
The victim tried to defend his family by heading Johnson on the head. Johnson then allegedly turned and shot him, according to police.
Witnesses told police they heard one gunshot during the incident, which officers said lasted only 37 seconds.
The victim was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital — where he later died, police said.
“senseless is the perfect word to describe this crime. The victim and the suspect at this point, we have no reason to believe that they knew each other so this was just a horrific thing that happened on a night that was supposed to be a night full of celebration,” said Sarasota PD public information officer Genevieve Judge.
The department said that after getting Johnson’s description from witnesses, officers found her with several other people in front of on 2nd Street.
As officers approached, Johnson was spotted trying to hide the gun in a planter, according to police. The gun was recovered from the plant.
Johnson was booked on a $1.1 million bond for charges of murder, tampering with evidence, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police said Johnson had seven previous convictions, including a conviction for carrying a concealed firearm.
Police are still investigating the murder and ask those with information to call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS or online at www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.