The alleged boyfriend reportedly shot the woman multiple times in the face while her two children were in the car.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of murder and gun violence that may be disturbing to readers.
Joana Peca, a 27-year-old woman was shot dead in front of her two children, reports Newsweek. "Around 5:30 pm on Saturday, July 31, 2021, 27-year-old Joana Peca was shot to death in front of her two young children, inside a vehicle in the 100 blocks of 60 St. S," the St. Petersburg Police Department shared, while asked for help regarding the homicide via their Facebook page.
"Anyone with information about the shooting or Ms. Peca is strongly encouraged to call 727-893-7780 as soon as possible," the post concluded.
‘We very much would like to get justice for these two young children.’— Niko Clemmons (@WFLANiko) August 1, 2021
NOW on @WFLA: @StPetePD are investigating after a woman was found dead in a car with her two young children in the backseat. The mother has been identified as 27-year-old Joana Peca. https://t.co/enleSgOpR8 pic.twitter.com/tzMu5iAc9r
By the time first responders arrived, Peca had succumbed to her injuries. "Our officers arrived here and found Joana Peca deceased inside her vehicle, suffering from what appears to be an apparent gunshot wound," said Sandra Bentil, a spokesperson for the St. Petersburg Police Department, per FOX13. That's when they found both her children in the car with her.
"The children were unharmed, but terrified at what had just happened," said Bentil.
Detectives are unsure as to what led to the shooting or why Peca was in the area in the first place, but at the time, their priority was to find out who was behind the attack.
"Two young children tonight are going to go to bed without their mother, and we would really like to get justice for those who are responsible, the person or the people who are responsible for her death," said Bentil. Since they had no leads to work with, they were desperate for any help from the public.
"Our plea at this time is really to anyone who may have information, even the smallest detail, please give us a call and share. We would really like to get the people or the person who is responsible for her death," said Bentil.
However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, the police department issued an arrest warning for Benjamin Robert Williams, 38, aka “Bambi.” The man shot Peca multiple times in the face as she held her baby and another child sat in the back seat, police said. Rumored to be romantically involved, Bambi and Peca shared a child together.
The department shared a mugshot of the criminal on their social media and wrote: "Detectives are looking for the shooter, Benjamin Robert Williams, for killing Joana Peca in front of her two young children on July 31st. A warrant has been issued for Williams' arrest and officers are actively searching for him." According to the cops, he is deemed to be armed and dangerous.
The suspect is reportedly connected to several open homicide investigations. He has been arrested in cases ranging from grand theft auto, possession of drugs with intent to sell, robbery, and fleeing police. Most recently, he was arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm in January 2020.
"He is a person of interest in some homicides that we’ve looked at. We never could say he did those homicides; his name kept coming up," St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway told ABC Action News. "But, we know he did this one. And, this is the one we want the public to help find him and bring him to justice and bring justice to that family."
The St. Petersburg Police Department is actively searching for Williams. Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information on Benjamin Williams' whereabouts can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS, to be eligible for the reward.
@StPetePD says 27-year-old Joana Peca was found dead inside a car near a St. Pete cemetery. Her children were found inside the car unharmed but "terrified." https://t.co/ePf1ZweGnF pic.twitter.com/BsbBihEgOn— 10 Tampa Bay (@10TampaBay) August 1, 2021
Tips can also be shared by calling the St. Petersburg Police Department at 727-893-7780 or by sending a text that includes the letters "SPPD" and your tip to TIP411.
Cover Image Source: Facebook | St. Petersburg Police Department