US Marshals take over search for shooting suspect

Published: Monday, July 15, 2013 at 5:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 15, 2013 at 5:40 p.m.

The U.S. Marshal Services has taken the lead in the search for a 26-year-old man they say fatally shot a Gainesville man in the head early Sunday morning.

Authorities began searching for Larry Whitehead Jr. after witnesses told Gainesville Police officers that they saw him force his way into the Southern Pines Apartment unit of Samuel Hamilton, 37, around 6 a.m.

Immediately before the shooting, Whitehead broke into the apartment at 4110 SW 17th Place, and got into an argument with Hamilton, according to the GPD report.

Whitehead pulled out a handgun and shot Hamilton in the head before running away, police said.

An official at the U.S. Marshal's Service in Gainesville on Monday declined to explain the specifics of the agency switch. He said “99.9 percent of the time, when the marshals get involved it's at the request of local law enforcement either because of difficulties in the case or they believe the suspect may have fled the jurisdiction.”

Two GPD detectives who are also sworn U.S. Marshals will also be aiding in the search, officials said.

GPD said Sunday that the shooting was not a random incident and they believe that Whitehead and Hamilton knew each other.

Multiple officers and Alachua County Sheriff's deputies used K9s to search the area but did not find Whitehead or the weapon. Police suspect that Whitehead may have left the area in a vehicle.

Whitehead has an extensive criminal history and should be considered extremely dangerous, police said.

To report a sighting of Whitehead, call 911 immediately to relay his location, clothing description and direction of travel. If you have information on his whereabouts, call GPD detective Martin Honeycutt at (352) 393-7615. To report information anonymously, text “GPDFL” plus your tip to 274637.

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