Convicted murderer accused of shooting Rockledge man during fight about his daughter

Suspect faces first-degree murder charge

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. – Rockledge police say the suspect in a fatal shooting earlier this month shot the man because he was upset about a fight between the victim and his daughter.

Willie Stewart, 61, faces charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Police arrested Stewart just before 11 p.m. Friday at his Georgia Avenue home. He remains incarcerated without bond at the Brevard County Jail Complex, and he will be arraigned March 17 at the Moore Justice Center in Viera.

Stewart was taken into custody without incident, Deputy Police Chief Donna Seyferth said. The investigation remains ongoing.

"We are certain that we have the right person," Seyferth said.

Tyler Chapple Jr. was shot and killed about 12:30 p.m. Feb. 7. The residential neighborhood lies just northwest of the intersection of Fiske Boulevard and Pluckebaum Road.

Irish Thomas, 33, was arrested and charged with accessory after the fact in a first-degree murder and first-degree felony murder in the case, according to court records.

Police said surveillance on Feb. 7 recorded Stewart shooting Tyler Chapple and in court at the county jail Sunday, an assistant state attorney alleged Stewart and Irish attempted to disconnect home surveillance to eliminate evidence.

"They have a video tape of him chasing the victim with a gun. The victim then goes down. He walks away," Brevard County Judge Benjamin Garagozlo said to Stewart's defense attorney.

That lawyer told the judge Stewart is a great-grandfather with long ties to Brevard County.

The court also addressed Stewart’s second-degree murder conviction in the 1980s, which he spent a few years in prison for.

Police said in this month’s case, Stewart was angry about a previous incident between Tyler Chapple and Stewart’s daughter.

"There had been a fight or that he had beat her up, something to that nature," Seyferth said.

Tyler Chapple’s family said he leaves behind a 4-year-old son.

“It was shocking to me just like it was shocking to everyone else,” cousin Johnny Chapple, Jr. said. “I don’t even know what happened. Hopefully, they can get to the bottom of it and maybe they can get some results out of it and we can go on with our lives.”

A celebration of life for Tyler Chapple was held Saturday.

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