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Sunday, October 01, 2023

Gainesville police arrest suspect involved in killing outside GRACE Marketplace

The police department is searching for another suspect in the case

Gainesville police arrested a man Wednesday for his alleged involvement in the Aug. 5 killing of another man outside the GRACE Marketplace homeless shelter. 

Police charged James Lawrence, a 55-year-old man whose address is listed at the shelter, with premeditated first-degree murder after responding to a call around 7:50 a.m. about a man found dead outside of the shelter. The identity of the victim has not been released as of Aug. 11.

Witnesses told police a physical altercation between the victim and Lawrence led to the victim’s death, according to Lawrence’s arrest report.

The Gainesville Police Department is also searching for another suspect in the case: 42-year-old San Tonio Smith.

The victim attempted to intervene in a conversation among Lawrence, Smith and Terris Hunter, identified as a witness according to the report. After the victim was told the conversation did not involve him, he started cursing at Smith. 

Smith then body-slammed the victim to the asphalt, according to the report, and proceeded to punch and kick him as Lawrence pinned his wrists to the ground. 

Preliminary autopsy results suggest the victim died of blunt force trauma when the altercation occurred, according to the report. 

Lawrence is being held at the Alachua County Jail with a bond of $1,000,000. He has prior convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, battery and violent resistance of an officer.

GPD is asking anyone who has information to contact 352-393-7670. For anonymity, contact the Alachua County Crime Stoppers at 352-393-7670. 

Contact Omar at Follow him on Twitter @OAteyah.

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Omar Ateyah

Omar Ateyah is a third-year journalism student and the Alligator's Race and Equity reporter. He previously served as the Alligator's crime reporter and as a news assistant on the Metro Desk. He enjoys going on long, thoughtful walks. 

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