An Ocklawaha man was arrested Monday evening near sorority house Kappa Alpha Theta after Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputies trailed his car on a warrant from Marion County.
Antonio Murray, 21, had a warrant for invading a home in Marion County at gunpoint, ACSO spokesperson Art Forgey said. He was booked at Alachua County Jail Monday with a $25,000 bond.
Kappa Alpha Theta president Julia Cordover, a 22-year-old UF public relations senior, said her first priority when she saw what was happening was to keep her sorority sisters away from harm.
“I saw a bunch of police cars all surrounding our house and I did see someone from the house get arrested behind us,” Cordover said. “We just did everything we could to be safe.”
At about 6 p.m. Monday, deputies identified Murray’s vehicle and license plate from the Marion County warrant around the 5500 block of West Newberry Road just east of Oaks Mall, Forgey said. Deputies followed Murray’s car after he turned left on Southwest Eighth Avenue.
When Murray parked at a parking space on the same street, the deputies following him turned on their emergency lights and conducted a felony stop on the vehicle.
On Oct. 14, Murray and two other individuals broke into a Marion County home located at Southeast 159th Court, a Marion County Sheriff's Office affidavit read.
Two individuals including Murray grabbed a boy by the neck and threw him against his bedroom wall. One of the individuals pointed an AR-15 style rifle at the victim’s head before stealing a $100 gold chain and $200 glock airstyle rifle.
The third individual acted as a look-out. She had moments before visited the victim’s house as an old-friend, which the victim found suspicious because she did not live nearby. When apprehended by the Sheriff's Office, she later confessed to the group stealing two firearms.
Murray’s black 2004 Acura TL was seen entering and leaving the area around the time the incident occurred. His vehicle was later found by Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
It’s unclear as of Wednesday how or why Murray ended up near Sorority Row.
Sorority house Kappa Alpha Theta is located right beside where the incident occurred. Cordover said the group was in the middle of hosting a chapter meeting. She said the university didn’t inform the house through text or email of any danger taking place like it is usually required to.
The Clery Act requires UF to send campuswide timely warning messages.
“We didn’t really know any protocols,” Cordover said. “I told everyone to get away from the windows and just to make our way into a room where you can’t view the incident, just in case a situation did emerge.”
Cordover attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 so the emergency triggered past memories from when she lived through a school shooting. The house Murray was arrested from behind Kappa Alpha Theta often poses a threat to the safety of students who live on Sorority Row, she said.
“We're going to try to do something to hopefully get rid of the house behind ours,” Cordover said. “There's been so many incidents and no one really looks out for us here.”
Forgey said Murray was non-violent and didn’t resist arrest, but the presence of officers was likely what caused residents to question their safety.
“There was never a slight danger to the public,” Forgey said. “Anytime you have somebody with a felony warrant, especially with a violent felony, we are going to show up with enough people to make the situation safe.”
Murray’s trial will be held in Marion County, though the date remains unclear.
Contact Isabella Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Ad_Scribendum.
Isabella Douglas is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter for The Alligator's Metro desk. She previously worked as a news assistant for The Alligator's University team and as a contributing writer for the New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News. When she isn't reporting, she can be found reorganizing her bookshelf and adding books to her ever-growing TBR.