A 20-year-old Florida man has been arrested for allegedly murdering his young daughter’s mother and grandmother while he and the mother were in the midst of a tumultuous custody battle.
Radrick Deshay Francois was taken into custody on Friday afternoon and charged with two counts of first-degree murder with a firearm in the fatal shooting of Tanga Owens, 20, and Tanishia Starr, 39, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Francis – who had previously threatened to kill Owens – shot her and her mother when the women were in a car parked outside an apartment complex in London Crest Drive. There were also two young children in the car at the time, including Francois and Owens’ 2-year-old daughter, per OCSO. None of the children were injured.
A probable cause affidavit obtained by Orlando CBS affiliate WKMG-TV provided additional details about the double murder.
According to the report, deputies responded to 911 calls around 11:30 a.m. on April 14 about a shooting in the parking lot of an apartment complex. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders found two female victims – later identified as Owens and Starr – inside a Kia sedan apparently suffering from gunshot wounds. Both women were taken to a local hospital where they were both pronounced dead.
Several witnesses reportedly told investigators they saw a grown man wearing a Count von Count “Sesame Street” hoodie standing outside the vehicle and speaking with the two women before they heard gunshots ring out. The man was then seen fleeing the scene holding a young child in his arms, MPs wrote. Owens’ 8-month-old son was reportedly left in the backseat of the vehicle.
At the time of the shooting, several unnamed deputies from the Sheriff’s Arrest Unit were already in the area for an independent investigation and could have immediately blocked the exits and identified Francois as a suspect.
Investigators said they were then able to contact Francis’ mother, who informed deputies of the ongoing custody battle between her son and Owens, her son’s “stated intent to kill Owens” and the apartment he lived in, according to WKMG. Francois reportedly told his mother over the phone that he was not involved in the shooting when deputies led him out of the apartment and placed him under arrest.
Her 2-year-old daughter was found unharmed inside the apartment.
Francis was transported to the sheriff’s office where authorities say he confessed to the shooting, but claimed he actually shot Owens in self-defense and Starr by accident.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Francis said Owens was armed and “disrespecting him” when she arrived at the apartment with her mother and the two children. Francois reportedly said he snatched the gun from Owens, then pulled his daughter out of the vehicle. He then claimed he was trying to return the gun to Owens when she “snatched it away” from him and it exploded.
However, security footage from the parking lot showed Francis – who was wearing the Sesame Street hoodie – approaching the passenger side door of the vehicle, briefly interacting with Owens and Starr, then shooting the women, according to WKMG. It was only after the shooting that François allegedly got his daughter out of the vehicle and left the baby behind.
While executing a search warrant at Francois’ apartment, investigators say they recovered the Sesame Street sweatshirt and several cartridges for a 9mm handgun.
Francois is currently being held in the Orange County Jail without bond.
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