Double shooting in Tampa might have been spurred by stolen cellphone

Ronnie Thornton
Ronnie Thornton

An argument over a cellphone between Hillsborough County teens Monday might have led to a double shooting that left one dead and another hospitalized.

Ronnie Thornton, who turned 18 earlier this month, stands accused of killing friend Corey Gordon, 17, and wounding Christopher Vilbreana, 14, WFLA-8 reports.

The motive? Perhaps a dispute over a phone, Thornton’s father told the Tampa Bay Times.

The teens accused Thornton of stealing one of their phones. Hours later, Thornton opened fire on a maroon Volkswagen Passat with his two friends inside, killing Gordon and striking Vilbreana in the foot. The shooting occurred in the 3600 block of Potter Street in Tampa.

Thornton’s father, whose first name is also Ronnie, feared the argument over the phone would escalate, he told the Times, so he separated the teens. They didn’t stay separated for long.

"[My son] was mad and upset," the father said, "and they wanted to fight."

Thornton is being held in county jail with no bail on four felony charges: second-degree murder, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, shooting into a vehicle and felon in possession of a firearm.

“I'm shocked,” the elder Ronnie Thornton, 48 told the Times Tuesday. "I just hate to see it go down like that."

Thornton added that the shooting "was over some stupid s---."

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley