Murder suspect arrested at Gainesville motel

Published: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 5:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 5:25 p.m.

Gainesville police on Sunday captured a 31-year-old man they say shot and killed his pregnant former girlfriend the previous day.

Alvin G. Thomas, accused of killing 22-year-old Caitlin A. Albritton at around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, was found at the Budget Inn, 4401 SW 13th St., on Sunday evening.

Police had tracked him to the motel and called to him from outside his room. He complied and was arrested without incident, according to a Gainesville police report.

On Saturday afternoon, neighbors said they heard the pair arguing in Albritton's home at the Village Green Apartments, at 3101 NE 15th St. Minutes later, a single gunshot rang out.

Thomas, a Gainesville resident known as Ace, was seen running from the scene in black clothing and armed with a handgun. Other witnesses said Thomas was picked up in a silver F-150 king cab pickup with "lots of chrome."

Six weeks pregnant, Albritton was rushed to the hospital after the shooting but succumbed to her injuries.

Thomas and Albritton had a 9-month-old daughter, GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias added, and were in a relationship prior to the shooting. He said the couple's child is being cared for by Albritton's family.

Tobias said GPD investigators were assisted by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Marshals North Florida Fugitive Task Force as well as numerous tips from the public.

"With local law enforcement and the public coming together as one force, we are now one step closer to justice for the family of Caitlin Albritton" he said. "The thoughts and prayers of the entire Gainesville Police Department remain with Caitlin Albritton's family tonight."

Earlier Sunday at the Village Green Apartments, a light drizzle fell as children squealed and ran across yellowing lawns. Two boys tossed a football under the shelter of a tree.

But room G-53, where Albritton was shot, remained closed off by yellow police caution tape. The windows were closed, blinds drawn.

Under an awning near the front of the apartment complex, Michael Tugerson and Rodney Thompson struggled to grasp the senseless act of violence.

"It seems unreal," Tugerson, 52, said.

"It isn't real," Thompson agreed, staring out at the rain.

Thompson, 33, described Albritton as "a sister" and Thomas as "his brother."

Thompson said he can't understand what drove Thomas to pull a gun on the mother of his child, as police allege. The couple had been together for two years, he said. Thomas used to wash the dishes and take care of the children: The 9-month-old girl and an 18-month-old Albritton had from a previous relationship.

"They cared for each other," Thompson said. "And Alvin was a good person. What would have escalated in his mind to do something like that?"

Thomas was a childhood friend of 15 years, Thompson said. As kids, they played together on the street. As students, they attended Westwood Middle School and Gainesville High School. When Thomas introduced his pal to Albritton, they hit it off and laughed together.

Albritton was "sweet, all natural, beautiful and smart," Thompson said. "If she had a dollar, she'd give you her last dollar knowing it would help you."

Thompson said he thought Albritton had been taking classes at Santa Fe College but thinks she dropped out to take care of her children.

Tugerson said he knew Albritton's father, who went by the nickname "Pig" because of his size. He recalled seeing Albritton once, when she was "11 or 12," and said she was a "smiler."

When he heard the news, Tugerson was in disbelief. "You've got to be kidding me," he said. "She didn't even make it to 25. I can only imagine how her father must feel."

As the rain slowed down, Thompson's fiance, Angie Bryant, handed out fliers in the parking lot for a rally against domestic violence scheduled to take place in December.

The violence is awful enough, said Bryant, 37, but what's worse is the undetermined fate of the couple's children.

"They don't have a mother, and now, they don't have a father, either," she said. "The children are lost right now."

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