Developing: Murder suspect opens fire on police in Georgia, ends up clipping one deputy


LAKELAND, GA – Police say that a Florida man that is a homicide suspect was reportedly shot numerous times during exchanged gunfire with deputies in Georgia on July 22nd.

The suspect is currently hospitalized, while a deputy had reportedly suffered a graze wound during the fray.

The suspect in question is 37-year-old William “Billy” Welland, from Tampa, Florida. Police arrested Welland in Lanier County after authorities in Tampa had Welland listed as a suspect in the killing of a 29-year-old man on July 21st.

Welland, a convicted felon, was just released from prison back in February of this year after serving a 10-year sentence for various robberies in Hillsborough County, Florida.

What led authorities in Georgia to happening upon Welland started out as a report of a home invasion in Lakeland where a homeowner was shot and the suspect tried to steal their vehicle.

Authorities were able to identify Welland as the suspect involved in the home invasion and shooting in Lakeland.

The condition of the homeowner shot in Lakeland has not been released at this time, but it was reported that they’re being treated at a hospital in Valdosta, Georgia.

Police were then able to spot the stolen vehicle that belonged to the Florida murder victim that Welland had been using since fleeing from the state, and a chase began.

While the chase was ongoing, Welland crashed the stolen Audi, and had managed to steal a mini-van while police were hot on his tail.

The chase had eventually ended in Lanier County, but that was also the point where Welland was said to have opened fire at deputies. A female deputy, who was reportedly on her first shift with the department after having previously worked with the Adel Police Department, was grazed by a bullet in her arm.

The deputy hit was said to have been treated at Valdosta hospital and released shortly thereafter. Investigators from the Tampa Police are currently in Georgia following up on the homicide investigation from Florida.

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Speaking of investigations in Florida, arrests have recently been made regarding the three murders that recently took place over at a lake in Polk County. 

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd recently announced that three people have been taken into custody regarding the brutal murder of three friends who ventured out for a fishing trip on July 17th. The sheriff noted that the three people arrested were taken into custody on July 22nd.

When speaking about the case, Sheriff Judd stated the following about the three arrested:

“We have locked up the three people responsible for the murders of these guys.”

The three arrestees were cited as 26-year-old Tony “TJ” Wiggins, 27-year-old Mary Whittemore and 21-year-old William “Robert” Wiggins.

"Pure evil in the flesh": Sheriff says well-known felon 'massacred' three fishing buddies in Florida
Tony Wiggins – Polk County Sheriff’s Office

The two Wiggins were cited as being brother, with Tony having been said to be the ringleader in the gruesome murders 23-year-old Damion Tillman, 27-year-old Brandon Rollins and 30-year-old Kevin Springfield. Sheriff Judd referred to Tony as being “pure evil in flesh,” and the suspect in custody totes 15 prior convictions, 230 felony criminal charges historically, and has served two terms in prison previously.

The woman among the group, Whittemore, is said to be the girlfriend of Tony.

"Pure evil in the flesh": Sheriff says well-known felon 'massacred' three fishing buddies in Florida
Mary Whittemore – Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Tony has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. The younger brother, William, was charged with tampering with evidence and accessory. As for Whittemore, she was charged with accessory after the fact of capital felony.

Police say that after the ruthless killing of the three friends at the lake, the three suspects drove to a local McDonald’s and ordered 10 cheeseburgers and two chicken sandwiches – like as if a triple murder hadn’t just occurred.

William Wiggins was said to have then taken the truck the trio were in at the lake to the car wash the following day to wash the clay off and make it so it didn’t appear to have been at the lake.

"Pure evil in the flesh": Sheriff says well-known felon 'massacred' three fishing buddies in Florida
William Wiggins – Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Judd thinks that the events that led up to the triple murder might have something to do with Tony Wiggins believing someone’s had tampered with his truck:

“The only conflict we see is this- ‘Where’s my truck? I heard you stole the engine out of my truck.”

The investigation is still ongoing, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.


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