Crime History, Feb. 28, 1979: Crips co-founder ‘Tookie’ Williams goes on killing spree

On this day, Feb. 28, in 1979, Stanley “Tookie” Williams III, co-founder of the notorious Crips street gang in Los Angeles, killed the first of four people during a two-week armed robbery spree in Southern California.

Williams, who was found guilty of four killings, became an anti-violence crusader on death row. He insisted until his execution that he was innocent of the four murders.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams

Stanley “Tookie” Williams

The first victim, Albert Owens, 26, an Army veteran and father of two, was ordered to lie on the floor of the 7-Eleven store where he worked and then was shot twice in the back.

Two weeks later Williams shot and killed three Taiwanese immigrants who operated a motel in South Central Los Angeles, authorities said.

Williams was convicted of all four murders and sentenced to death.

He later became an author of several books including anti-gang and anti-violence literature.

He never admitted to the killings, but admitted to starting the Crips gang that terrorized Los Angeles, and spread throughout the country. The Crips have been blamed for hundreds of killings.

Williams’ case for clemency was championed by Hollywood celebrities, including actors Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover and Mike Farrell, rapper Snoop Dogg, and opponents of the death penalty.

Williams was executed in Dec. 13, 2005, hours after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to spare his life. Williams was 51.

– Scott McCabe



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