Florida man arrested for murder following release from jail to stem coronavirus spread

Joseph Edward Williams
Joseph Edward Williams(Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)

A Florida man released from jail in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus was arrested on a murder charge just one day later, authorities said.
Joseph Edward Williams was originally arrested on March 13 for possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Less than a week later, he was among more than 100 inmates released from Orient Road Jail in an effort to protect staff and the remaining offenders from COVID-19.
“There is no question Joseph Williams took advantage of this health emergency to commit crimes while he was out of jail awaiting resolution of a low-level, non-violent offense,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
“Every murder, every violent crime, especially those involving a gun, is a sickening example of the worst in our community, especially at a time when our community is working relentlessly to fight against the spread of this deadly COVID-19.”
The 26-year-old suspect was arrested one day after his release on March 20 on new charges including second-degree murder with a firearm, resisting an officer with violence and felon in possession of a firearm, police said in a press release on Tuesday.
Earlier in the night, authorities received multiple 911 calls reporting gunshots. Responding deputies discovered a man suffering from a gunshot wound around 10:40 p.m. and rushed him to Tampa General Hospital, where he later died.

Law enforcement officers confirmed to WFLA Williams was arrested in connection with the shooting.

He was previously being held on $2,500 bond, which has since been raised to $280,500.

“Judges, prosecutors, and Sheriffs around the country are facing difficult decisions during this health crisis with respect to balancing public health and public safety,”" Chronister said.

"Sheriffs in Florida and throughout our country have released non-violent, low-level offenders to protect our deputies and the jail population from an outbreak.Our commitment as an agency is to keep this community safe and enforce the law.” 

Medical experts and inmate advocates have warned the closed environment and dense populations within detention centers and jails facilitate the spread of coronavirus.

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