Published: March 14, 2009
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SARASOTA - Cornell Harris Jr. and Robert B. Cummings Jr. were childhood friends who sometimes worked out together at a local boxing club.
But police say that their friendship splintered when they joined rival gangs, and that it was Cummings who killed Harris during a home invasion robbery last weekend on Orange Avenue.
The day after police said he was not a suspect in the shooting that killed Harris and left his girlfriend badly wounded, Cummings was charged with murder.
Cummings, of Sarasota, had been a childhood friend of Cornell "Pickle" Harris. More recently, though, police say they were enemies, with Harris a member of the "24th Street Boys" and Cummings joining the gang known as "Second Line."
Police say Cummings called Harris on his cell phone about 10 a.m. March 7, and then arrived at Harris' apartment a few minutes later.
Harris died after being shot once in the face and twice behind his left ear. His girlfriend, Whitney Torres, was also shot but survived.
After the shootings, Cummings' family was targeted by arsonists who set fire to their house on 24th Street. The home was set ablaze at 3 a.m Wednesday, although police initially said Cummings was not a suspect in the killing.
But on Thursday, Torres, at a St. Petersburg hospital, identified him as the shooter, police say.
According to documents released Friday, Torres told detectives that she was in bed with Harris when the phone rang.
He got out of bed during the call and, a short time later, he yelled to Torres and she heard the gunshots.
She ran to the living room and saw the gunman, then ran back to the bedroom. He followed.
As she dialed 911, the gunman shot her in the left side, the left arm and the neck. When she fell on the bed, detectives say, he thrust the gun in her face and asked, "Where it at?"
She threw him Harris' jeans, which had about $80 in them. Then the gunman ran