Man killed 3 in revenge for humiliation, Ocala police say
Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.
The man suspected of gunning down three men outside a downtown Ocala bar early Sunday morning was seeking revenge for being humiliated in a video involving a misfiring gun, authorities said.
About 11:45 a.m. Sunday, Ocala Police Department detectives arrested Andrew Joseph "Punchy" Lobban, 31, of Ocala on three counts of first-degree murder in the slaying of three co-workers outside AJ's bar on the downtown square about 12:43 a.m.
According to police and an arrest affidavit, Lobban admitted to the shootings. He was being held without bail on Sunday.
Lobban told investigators that he only intended to shoot Josue "Sway" Santiago, 25, of Ocala, the report said. The other victims — Benjamin Larz Howard, 23, of Belleview, and Jerry Lamar Bynes Jr., 20, of Ocala — he shot by accident, Lobban reportedly told police.
Lobban was upset that he had been "punked" in a videotaped incident that occurred within the past couple of weeks, OPD spokeswoman Sgt. Angy Scroble said.
Lobban had gone to a local shooting range with one of the victims, likely Santiago, said Scroble. At some point during that visit Lobban tried to fire a gun and it misfired, she said.
The incident was taped, and the video was shared among all of the victims, all of whom worked with Lobban as bouncers at the Ocala Entertainment Complex.
They laughed at Lobban and teased him about it, police said, which seemed to anger him.
"He just kept harping on that" during his interview with detectives, Scroble said of Lobban. "It really bothered him."
Each victim was shot once in the head, with Santiago and Bynes, whose nickname was Junior, sustaining fatal wounds to the back of the skull, the affidavit states.
The four men worked at the Ocala Entertainment Complex, known as OEC, a nightclub owned by Ocala businessman Bobby Tillander. Tillander's daughter Amanda owns AJ's, at 11 E. Silver Springs Blvd. in Ocala.
All four men were together Saturday night at AJ's. Police said they do not believe the men were working at the time.
They were apparently part of a larger group that had just left to go to another bar. Witnesses reported there was no confrontation between Lobban and the victims until the shots were fired.
Clifford Floyd told police he had been drinking with Lobban at AJ's. He said he watched Lobban pull a black handgun from his pants as the group exited the bar.
Floyd said he heard a number of shots then saw Lobban running to the north, according to the affidavit.
Other witnesses have identified Lobban as the gunman, Scroble said.
Lobban was arrested without incident at his girlfriend's home in Silver Springs Shores shortly before noon.
Lobban did not comment to reporters as he was escorted from the police department to the Marion County Jail on Sunday afternoon.
Lobban admitted to dumping a 9 mm pistol and a black T-shirt, which he had worn that night, in a garbage can as he ran from the scene, police said. An OPD officer and her K-9 partner recovered a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and a black T-shirt from a city garbage can about a block from the killings, the affidavit says.
Lobban told detectives where he had bought a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol that police believe was the murder weapon. Scroble said she didn't have information about when Lobban acquired the pistol, or if it was the same weapon used in the video.
Scroble said Lobban has a criminal record but nothing indicating a violent history. Court records show Lobban was arrested in May 2011 on one count of misdemeanor shoplifting.
He was found guilty two months later and sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to pay court costs.
"We're surprised by something like this happening," Scroble said. Outside police headquarters Sunday, Mayor Kent Guinn echoed that sentiment.
"I think it's very random, and I'm saddened by it," Guinn said. "It's senseless that three people lost their lives."
As for the reported motive, he said, "It's just ridiculous."
At Santiago's residence Sunday, his mother, Maria Santiago, said her son was a dedicated worker who loved his family and was a good and loyal friend.
"He was a joker, always had a smile, very outgoing, friendly and was a leader," she said, adding that he had dreams of owning his own club.
A father of two young children, a son and 2-month-old daughter, Santiago was head of security at all the clubs owned by OEC. His mother said Santiago began working at OEC in about 2011 and quickly moved up the ranks.
"He was a gentle giant, a great son, a provider and a good father to his family," she said.
In late February, Santiago was shot in the shoulder by a patron, Deon Sutton, after Sutton accused Santiago of spilling his drink. As Sutton was being escorted out of OEC, Sutton reportedly pulled a gun from his pocket. The two struggled over the weapon, which discharged and hit Santiago, according to an Ocala police report.
Santiago's mother said the trauma caused his fiancee to go into labor and she delivered the couple's daughter that night.
At Bynes' residence, not far away from Santiago's, his mother, Dawn Acosta Romaine, said her son was training to be an MMA fighter, did promotions for OEC and is an auto detailer.
"He was a good kid, liked to laugh and joke. He wanted everyone to be happy," she said.
Romaine said her son was "into fitness" and always worked out. He was known as the human flag because he could hold onto a pole and hang horizontally.
"So many people loved him," she said. Her son leaves behind a 2½-month-old daughter.
Chip Pollings said Bynes was "a very good friend of mine and was always there for me."
Embracing in the living room, the two mothers — Romaine and Maria Santiago — said "we both lost two sons."
Santiago's fiancee is Bynes' sister, and both families are close. The mothers said they want the two sons to be buried side by side.
Bobby Tillander sent his condolences to the families and friends of the victims, saying he, too, suffered the loss of a child years ago and "it's something you never get over."
Tillander said he cannot understand why Lobban would want to shoot the trio because they were all friends. He called the shooting "senseless" and said he is "numb" about the incident.
"These guys all hung out on a regular basis. I'm surprised," Tillander said.
Tillander said Lobban worked for the club for about 2½ years and he was a quiet, mild-mannered man. He said if there was a confrontation at the club, Lobban would be the one trying to protect people and the business.
"If he said 10 words to you during his shift, he said a lot," Tillander said.
Lobban didn't work Saturday night, Tillander said, because he said he had wrecked his car.
Outside AJ's on Sunday afternoon, someone had constructed a small memorial. On a sidewalk still stained with drops of dried blood, a lit candle stood between a small brown Teddy bear, a white cross and a bouquet of red roses.
Behind it was a handwritten sign reading, "RIP Sway and Junior. We miss you and we love you."
Contact Bill Thompson at 867-4117 or at email@example.com.