In his chilling police interrogation, Billy Woodward described the moment he sneaked across his front lawn wearing camouflage and shot three neighbors he had been feuding with in Titusville, Florida.
“I kept low crawling. I was on a military mission. I was going to end this war,” Woodward is heard telling Titusville police after the shooting on an interrogation tape.
Woodward is in a county jail, facing first degree murder and attempted murder charges for shooting and killing his neighbor Gary Hembree and Roger Picior, who had been living temporarily with Hembree, in summer 2012. Woodward shot a third neighbor, Tim Blake, who survived.
For months, Woodward and his family had been feuding with Hembree and Picior, who lived across the street, and Blake’s family. The dispute began when Woodward and his family accused Hembree’s daughter of stealing a birthday present left for Woodward’s daughter, which Hembree denied. Blake and his family took Hembree’s side.
The conflict continued to escalate with police being called during several incidents and each side attempting to get protection orders against the other side. By Labor Day weekend in 2012, the last straw came when Woodward told police he left his home with a gun to spy on his neighbors.
Woodward, who was captured on his own surveillance camera video, walked across the street and approached Picior, who was wrestling his visiting teenage son on the lawn.
“Roger’s son jumped off his back when he saw me, and I shot Roger in the torso,” Woodward recalled to police during his interrogation. “He slumped to the ground.”
Woodward told police he then turned his gun on Blake who was standing in his carport and shot him until he fell to the ground.
“He shoots me about, I don’t know, five or six times,” Blake, who also goes by the name Bruce, told ABC News’ “20/20.” “He was smiling.”
Eleven bullets hit Blake.
“I just kept getting shot everywhere and then I was like, ‘Damn, I’m already dead. I just ain’t had time to die yet,’” said Blake.
Woodward told police he then reloaded his gun with 15 more rounds and shot at Hembree, who was walking out his front door with his girlfriend Kim Sillsbury to see what was happening.
“I had a clean shot at his chest, and I put one dead center of his chest. He slumped to the ground,” Woodward said during his interrogation. “I shot Gary Hembree twice in the head, if I remember correctly. You’ll have to count the bullet holes when you guys go do the autopsy.”
“He came back, and I watched his feet walk up very slowly. And he emptied the rest of the clip out in my boyfriend,” Sillsbury told “20/20.”
At some point, Woodward returned to Picior and shot him twice in the head as Picior’s son watched.
“In order to make sure there’s no survivors on the battlefield, I point-blank shot [Picior] in the head once or twice,” Woodward said during his interrogation.
Tim Blake, who said he is “surprised” to be alive, survived for one reason:
“I did not go back and finish the job for Bruce Blake because I was out of bullets,” Woodward said during his interrogation. “[I] ran dry on three people.”
After the shooting, in a police interview room, Woodward waived away his Miranda rights and started talking. With his two neighbors dead and another badly injured, Woodward told police he didn’t think he should go to jail for the shooting (he does not mention self defense during the initial interviews with police)
Later Woodward says the shootings were in self defense, and invoked Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. A hearing was held this spring to determine whether Woodward is immune from prosecution under the law. A judge ruled he was not.
The first degree murder and attempted murder charges against Woodward are moving forward, and a hearing in the case is scheduled for next week. A trial may come late this year.
Woodward’s attorney said their defense strategy at the upcoming trial would be similar to their Stand Your Ground argument.