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Police say faulty gun conversion switch led to July 25 slaying on Brooks Lane


News Staff Writer

Atmore police revealed this week that the July 25 shooting death of a 22-year-old Atmore man was the result of an argument over a reportedly faulty part the suspect sold the victim that allows conversion of a semi-automatic handgun to fully automatic.
Antonio LeMarcus Pettaway II, 19, of Mobile, is accused of firing one shot from a 9mm handgun through the door of the vehicle in which Jatyrain Aquamini “Tank” Tolbert was sitting on Ann Street.
“The part is known as a Glock switch,” Police Chief Chuck Brooks said. “The one Pettaway sold to Tolbert apparently had a bad switch and wouldn’t work.”
The lone bullet passed through the car door and into Tolbert’s rib cage, according to testimony offered by Lt. Robbie Williams, head of APD’s Criminal Investigations Unit, during an August 10 hearing.
Williams said investigators have determined that Tolbert then drove about a block before he lost consciousness and ran into the rear of a Frontier Communications van at the intersection of Brooks Lane and King Street.
He was unresponsive when emergency personnel arrived and was taken to Atmore Community Hospital, where he was later officially pronounced dead.
At least three witnesses have identified the Mobile teen, who was out on bond for carrying a firearm onto the campus of Williamson High School last September, from a photo lineup.
Brooks said other witnesses have refused to identify Pettaway as the shooter because they fear reprisals.
He said authorities have found no connection between Pettaway and an incident that occurred late July 25 or early July 26, when 23 bullets were fired into the Freemanville home occupied by the girlfriend of a potential witness. A Molotov cocktail was also tossed at the house.
That case is being investigated by Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) detectives, who have not yet made any arrests.
According to published reports, District Attorney Steve Billy told District Court Judge Eric Coale the evidence against Pettaway, who surrendered to ECSO personnel August 3, should justify a charge of capital murder.
He said witnesses against Pettaway are “scared to death,” and added that, if Pettaway makes bond, “we may not have any witnesses alive to come to court.”
Coale had initially denied bond for Pettaway, but two days after the August 10 hearing, the district judge granted the accused killer a $500,000 bond. An employee of the Escambia County Detention Center’s booking and release division said Tuesday morning, August 22, that Pettaway, who is charged with one count of murder, is still behind bars.