Local News

Man killed over parking dispute, authorities say

— A 34-year-old Moore Haven man who reportedly bled to death in the early hours of April 21 was shot over a parking dispute, which reportedly turned into a melee between residents from Moore Haven and Highway Park, where the shooting happened, authorities say.

Travis Devon Wiggins, 41, 108 Aaron Drive, Apt. 20, Lake Placid, is accused of murdering Lee Andrew Thomas, and is charged with second-degree murder and possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon. He is being held without bail at the Highlands County Jail.

Thomas’ car was reportedly parked in front of 122 Crestmore Drive, Lake Placid, and was partially blocking the road, a Highlands County Sheriff’s Office arrest report states.

There had been an Easter block party going on and it appears there were Moore Haven residents still gathered at the 2 a.m. celebration, authorities say.

A silver Dodge Ram tried to drive around Thomas’ car and the driver, who reportedly is from Highway Park, yelled for him to move it, the report says.

This caused an argument, which turned physical and escalated as bystanders, half from Moore Haven and the other half from Highway Park, joined in, the report says.

During the fight, a witness told authorities he heard about three gunshots and saw Thomas slump to the ground.

An anonymous tipster told authorities the suspect was Wiggins, the report states. Deputies canvassed the neighborhood to locate the Dodge truck’s owner, who told authorities he was involved in the fight but did not remember gunfire nor see the victim getting shot, the report states.

He reportedly told sheriff’s officials that as the fight escalated, others began to jump in and hit him, as well, and he was just “trying to survive.”

Authorities reviewed surveillance video from a nearby liquor store, where they reportedly saw Wiggins parked outside the business and chat with someone for an hour, the report says.

At about 2:07 a.m., Wiggins reportedly left the liquor store, got into his car, and moved it adjacent to the crime scene, the report adds.

“The defendant is observed exiting and re-entering the vehicle twice over the next four minutes and walking about the area,” the report states.

Investigators reportedly saw both the driver of the Dodge Ram and Thomas fight on the video, and saw Wiggins reportedly run to his car and reach into it and run toward the fight, the report states.

“As the combatants disengaged, the victim and the defendant come face to face,” the report states.

Wiggins reportedly is seen pushing Thomas, who turned around and retreated into the parking lot area, and then saw Wiggins follow him, the report states.

“The defendant is then seen reaching out to grab the victim’s shoulder with his left hand,” the report adds, and his right hand appeared to “come in close contact with” Thomas’ lower back area, the report adds.

Thomas then slumped over and Wiggins moved away toward his vehicle, the report adds.

Wiggins told authorities he did not go back to his vehicle during the fight. There is “no apparent justification” for the alleged murder, authorities add.