‘Why did you shoot me?’ Rubonia man was playing video game with his accused killer

Several men were playing a game on Play Station 4 outside a Palmetto home on Friday night and gambling on the game, when several of them, they later told detectives, heard gunshots.

They then saw Benjamin Lang standing over Benny Williams IV.

“Why did you shoot me?” Williams asked Lang, according arrest affidavits in the case.

The witnesses, who had left the home in fear for their own safety before investigators arrived, told detectives there hadn’t been any fighting or threats that led up to shooting. Lang, who faces a murder charge, refused to talk to detectives, who have not identified a motive for the shooting.

At 10:16 p.m. Friday, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in the 1700 block of 17th Avenue Drive East in Palmetto after a 911 caller reported what they described as a drive-by-shooting. Deputies arrived and found Williams in the front yard with four gunshots wounds. They began CPR, until paramedics arrived to take over.

Williams was rushed to Blake Medical Center where he died about an hour later.

image1 (4).jpeg
Benjamin Lang, 31, faces a charge of murder after he shot another man at a gathering in Palmetto, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Manatee County Sheriff's Office

Lang, who was free on bond for a shooting last year, and his brother, who lives at the home, had been seen going in and out of the house together several times prior to the shooting, according to the report.

Deputies couldn’t find Lang. But a 2011 Buick LaCrosse registered to Lang’s mother and that he was known to drive, was found burning less than 10 miles from his home in Ruskin.

Detectives got an arrest warrant charging Lang with second-degree murder, and Lang surrendered at the Manatee County jail on Saturday night, almost 24 hours after the shooting.

Lang is now being held without bond.

On Monday morning, the front yard of his brother’s home was quiet. The only sign of what occurred was crime scene tape seen dangling out from a recycling bin at the curb. A folding table lay sideways on the ground where the television was reported to have been when investigators arrived.

In January, Lang was in court as his defense attorney argued that he should be granted immunity under Florida’s ‘Stand your Ground’ law for shooting a year ago. That shooting happened just one mile from where Friday’s night’s shooting occurred, which was his listed residence at that time.

A judge denied the immunity claim, citing that because Lang had been carrying a concealed weapon and therefore was engaged in criminal activity, he was not entitled to immunity. The victim had been shot in the back, according to the order, therefore squashing any self-defense claim, the judge added.

According to court records, Lang and the victim in that shooting had multiple altercations and had known each other since childhood. Lang, who’d been playing poker in Sarasota earlier in the night on St. Patrick’s Day, followed the victim after leaving a food stand near the former Groovers Market on 17th Street West.

Lang testified during a recent hearing that when he was walking up to the victim’s car, he saw the victim reach into the backseat. Lang said he thought the victim was reaching for a gun and so he shot at him first in self-defense.

His defense attorney is now appealing the decision in the Second District Court of Appeals.

Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.