A 19-year-old who had previously been arrested 37 times has now been arrested for murder in a drive-by shooting in Clearwater earlier this month, police say.
Clearwater Police homicide detectives have arrested Derriontae Ward in connection with the shooting from March 8 that left one person dead and three
He faces one charge of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in the incident, which occurred at the corner of Drew Street and U.S. 19.
Detectives were able to identify Ward, who has been arrested 37 times, as a suspect in the case. Authorities say at the time of the shooting, he was out on bond from multiple previous criminal cases, including aggravated assault with a firearm, grand theft auto, burglary and leaving the scene of a crash with injury.
Police say that while out on bond, Ward was wearing a GPS-enabled ankle device. That device showed that he was at the same restaurant as the victims before the shooting; it also places him at the scene of the crime, where nearly two dozen shots were fired. They say Ward cut off the ankle device the day after the shooting.
"You often hear about initiatives to reduce sentences for people who have chosen a life of criminality. There is no doubt that a criminal like Ward is the beneficiary of those initiatives and the safety of the general public is sacrificed," said Chief Dan Slaughter. "The recent increase in gun violence is directly related to Ward and a small band of criminals. There will be more arrests, but what we hope to see are consequences in the form of incarceration for the safety of the public."
Ward was arrested at the residence of a relative in Largo late Wednesday.