The 17-year-old suspect in the murder of a Temple University student over the weekend was arrested and charged earlier this year for a “gunpoint carjacking” but was released after prosecutors withdrew the case because a key witness failed to testify in court, a report says.
Latif Williams, on Wednesday night, turned himself in to the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Unit following the killing of 21-year-old Samuel Collington on Sunday. Officers that day responded to a 911 call for a person with a gun in the city’s north side and found Collington with gunshot wounds to his chest and back. He later was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
“Latif was fully cooperative with police upon learning of his arrest warrant, and he turned himself in voluntarily this evening,” Williams’ attorneys, Patrick Link and Marni Jo Snyder, told Fox29 Philadelphia. “We are in the process of investigating the facts of this case and we expect his presumption of innocence to be maintained throughout the judicial proceedings.”
Latif Williams, left, was sought for murder in the death of Samuel Collington, right. (Philadelphia Police Department/Family Handout)
Temple’s executive director of public safety, Charlie Leone, said in an online statement that the shooting “only further highlights the senseless gun violence that continues to grip the city of Philadelphia”.
Police told WPVI Collington had just parked his mother’s SUV on the street after returning from Thanksgiving at his family’s home. Authorities said while he was unloading his things, a suspected robber snuck up on him and a struggle ensued. The incident, according to police, is being investigated as a robbery.
Earlier this year, Williams was arrested and charged for a July 31 “gunpoint carjacking that did not result in bodily injury to the victim, but by its nature was violent,” the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said in a statement obtained by Fox29.
“However, a key witness for the Commonwealth did not appear in court, forcing our office to withdraw the case at that time,” read the statement issued Wednesday. “That incident, which took place in July, remains under active investigation, and our office continues to pursue accountability for that crime.”
Sam Collington outside at Temple University.
In that case, Williams was facing charges including aggravated assault, robbery, and possession of a firearm by a minor, the station added.
Collington’s family is now mourning his death. Friends told Fox29 that he had been planning to attend law school next fall after being on track to graduate from Temple University in the spring.
“Sam Collington – our son, brother, nephew, and cousin – was and is our hero, and this senseless act crushes us,” his family said in a statement. “He was kind and accomplished – president of his class, an eagle scout, National Honor Society, band, an intern at city hall, among many other things.”
Temple University posted an online statement in response to Collington’s death the day it happened and is encouraging students impacted by the off-campus incident to seek support through counseling services.
Fox News’ Pilar Arias contributed to this report.