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Wilson man dies in Florida shooting
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Wilson man dies in Florida shooting
Son: 'In a situation like this, nobody wins'

Police say a Wilson man died Sunday night when a gunman fatally shot the man and his girlfriend outside a coastal Florida hotel and was later killed in a police shootout.

Johnny Floyd Graham, 57, of 4533 Dewfield Drive North, died at the Courtyard by Marriott in Panama City, Fla. Police say 51-year-old Glen Llewelyn Briggs shot Graham and Briggs’ estranged wife, 44-year-old Vikitha Marcel Briggs, outside the hotel.

The shooting happened around 10:45 p.m. at the hotel on East 23rd Place, Lt. Robert Luther of the Panama City Police Department said.

"In a situation like this, nobody wins,” Johnny Graham Jr. said from his father’s front porch Tuesday night. "Right here, it seems like death is the victor. The key is to put God first in everything, even in death.”

Graham said his father was in Panama City to visit his brother and that he and Vikitha Briggs had just begun dating. He believes jealousy led Glen Briggs to shoot the couple.

"I should feel a grudge, but I really don’t because the Bible tells us not to hate,” Graham said. "Even though my mind tries to tell me to hate, my heart won’t let me. I think my father would have wanted it that way.”

Johnny Graham Jr. and younger brother Kelvin Maurice Graham sat outside their dad’s Wilson Country Club-area house and swapped stories Tuesday evening.

The Grahams said their father served 23 years in the U.S. Army and fought in Operation Desert Storm. He and their mother separated when they were children, and the boys lived with their mom for most of their childhood.

Graham Jr. said he developed a closer relationship with his dad after he grew up.

"He loved us, he loved his grandkids, and I think one of the things he would want to be remembered was his service to the country,” he said.

Graham’s sons were surprised when police notified them that their father had been killed.

"He wasn’t the troublemaker type, you know?” Kelvin Graham said.

"It pretty much was a shock to me,” his brother added. "My father was healthy. Besides what little weight he had on him, he was in pretty good shape.”

Graham Jr. said his father recently got divorced and was adjusting to life as a bachelor.

Henry Suggs, who’s been Graham’s next-door neighbor for 12 years, described him as a friendly man who enjoyed backyard sports banter.

"He was a nice guy, an easy guy,” Suggs said. "He liked being around the home, cutting the grass and that kind of thing. When you’re neighbors, you talk to them across the fence about football and stuff like that.”

Graham was an avid Carolina Panthers fan, said Suggs, who holds a permanent seat license at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Suggs had given Graham his tickets for Panthers games he wasn’t able to attend.

"It’s unbelievable, and I’m just sorry to hear that,” Suggs said upon learning of Graham’s death. "Johnny was a nice guy, a real friendly guy.”

Graham worked in information technology for Verizon Wireless in Raleigh and often traveled out of state for work, Suggs said.

Glen Briggs shot both victims multiple times, police said in a Monday statement. Medics pronounced Graham dead at the scene and Vikitha Briggs died from her injuries at a nearby hospital.

Panama City police said Briggs ran from the hotel and got into a maroon Dodge Charger. Police, sheriff’s deputies and federal marshals began a manhunt that spanned the Florida Panhandle. About two hours after the shooting, officers stopped his car on Interstate 10 in Leon County, roughly 100 miles northeast.

"A regional bulletin listing Glen Briggs as a suspect and the vehicle he was driving was sent to all area law enforcement agencies and the United States Marshals Florida Regional Task Force to help locate and apprehend Briggs for two counts of murder,” Luther said in a statement.

Briggs exchanged gunfire with the officers and was fatally shot, Luther said. He died at an area hospital.

Police said Graham knew both Glen Briggs and Vikitha Briggs but did not describe their relationship.

The Briggses were married but living in separate homes, Glen Briggs in Lynn Haven, Fla., and Vikitha Briggs in Callaway, Fla., according to Panama City police.

Police are still investigating the hotel shooting, Luther said in the statement. State troopers and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents are investigating the I-10 shootout in Leon County.

The U.S. Marshals Service’s Florida Regional Task Force, which includes federal marshals, state law enforcement agents, Panama City police and Bay County sheriff’s deputies, organized the search for Briggs. | 265-7821
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Bonnie Breton said...

My prayers and deepest heartfelt condolences for the families of Johnny and Vikitha. I work for Verizon and although I did no know Johnny, we are all one family here. This broke my heart to read?

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 7:23 AM
Stop it! said...

This article has nothing to do with race! So just stop it with the irrelevant comments. Stop it right now!

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 6:11 PM
Florida no worse than durham said...

read an article where all the 2013 homicides in Durham were black on black. So to say Florida is dangerous for blacks the same can be said for Durham.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Prayers for Your Family said...

God is with you during this difficult time. My prayers go out to you & your family. God loves you & has a plan for you. Put your faith in him & he will heal all wounds.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 9:54 PM
Carl, the guy over there said...

Florida is just not a safe place for blacks... and everyone else. Florida sucks!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 5:18 PM
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