Party shooting: one man dead, one arrested

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300-400 people showed up at senior center

By Alice Du Pont


      Investigators with the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office are still looking for witnesses to a shooting early Saturday morning that left one man dead and another in the county jail charged with homicide and carrying a concealed weapon.

       Omar Ahmed Mercer, 31, is accused of shooting 21-year-old Anthony Jerome Hopkins, Jr. several times outside the Senior Citizens Center in Quincy around 2:30 a.m. Aug. 4. The center had been rented for a birthday party Friday night. The party, which was supposed to be limited to between 40 and 50 guests, became a crowd estimates at 300-400 as the night went on.

       A press release distributed by the Gadsden County Sherriff’s Office on Aug. 6 stated that Hopkins became upset when a family member of Mercer’s arrived at the center when he could not find his car keys.

       The release goes on to state that “when Hopkins attempted to grab a firearm, he was shot several times.”

       “I talked to him Friday night about 10:30 and he told me he was going to a party. We talk everyday, three or four times everyday. I talk to him about these guys his age and he says ‘aw, mom, I know, I know…I tried to let him have his freedom and not baby him too much,” said Hopkins’ mother, Stephanie.

       Hopkins was the oldest of four children and lived with his mother in Quincy. She said he attended Tallahassee Community College but was not in school this summer. He spent most weekends with his cousins in the High Bridge Community.

       We were very close. He was my “boo,” that’s what we called him. I’m hurt. I’m very, very hurt … that’s my child,” she said.

       Several months ago, following a shooting at another party, deputies from the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office advised staff that they should require people who rent the building to have security at its functions, according to Major Shawn Wood,

       Interim County Administrator Arthur Lawson said the county leases the building for a nominal fee but that alcohol is not allowed in county property. Lawson said when he went to the building early Saturday morning it wreaked of alcohol and was “filthy.”

       LaToya Moody, senior citizens center director, did not want to be quoted for the record on the center’s rental policies. Lawson said he had spoken with Moody and she indicated she was not aware that alcohol was not permitted on the premises.