Man arrested in fatal shooting at troubled Orange County condo complex claims self-defense

Donald Willis, 27, faces charges of second-degree murder with a firearm

Donald Willis, 27, is claiming self-defense after his arrest in the fatal shooting of a 38-year-old man at the Tymber Skan condominium complex in Orange County, an arrest report shows.

ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orange County family is calling for a condemned property to be torn down for good following a deadly shooting there Tuesday morning.

Deputies responded to the Tymber Skan Condos around 2 a.m. Tuesday, where they found LaVance Smith, 38, shot. The man was taken to the hospital where he later died.

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Deputies announced Tuesday afternoon they arrested Donald Willis, 27 who faces charges of second-degree murder with a firearm.

Willis’ child’s mother, Breyotta Huggins, said Willis was defending himself when he opened fire.

“I heard (Willis) say, ‘They are trying to kill me,’” Huggins said. “I’m extremely hurt on both ends because we know him also, and he was actually friends with him.”

According to an affidavit for Willis’ arrest warrant that was shared Wednesday, witnesses reported seeing and hearing Willis run from the scene of the shooting Tuesday with a firearm, making statements of self-defense.

One witness told deputies that Willis spoke about having an injury to the back of the head, claiming Smith “tried to kill him and he shot him,” the affidavit stated.

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Willis was booked Tuesday and denied any and all involvement, deputies said.

Willie Starks, the victim’s stepfather, is angry about this Orange County condo property that’s been partially condemned for years after a history of crime, drugs and other issues.

“Tymber Skan needs to be gone. Gone completely. It’s too much crime, it’s too much dope, it’s too much murder,” Starks said. “They need to do something about Tymber Skan now.”

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A person was shot to death early Tuesday at a condemned Orange County condo complex, deputies said.

Starks said he told his stepson to stay away from the Tymber Skan apartments, but he didn’t.

The victim’s mother is heartbroken and said she wants to see results too.

“My son is not going to come back. He can’t come back,” said Dee Smith. “They [the county] need to tear it down, move this people out and tear it down.”

She said the county owns some units at Tymber Skan, but not all of them, and a building has to be vacant for the county to demolish it. In a statement, county leaders told News 6 the vast majority of the buildings were demolished and that the buildings still standing either have an occupied unit or a homestead exemption.

It’s the same property where deputies said they found the body of Miya Marcano nearby. She was the 19-year-old college student whom deputies said was killed by her coworker, Armando Cabballero. They said he killed her, dumped her body near Tymber Skan then killed himself. It’s also where News 6 has covered shootings and crime over the years and where we saw trash and debris on the property Tuesday.

“Tear that place down,” Starks said.

A woman who said she’s a property manager at Tymber Skan told News 6 she’s been working with a church and nonprofit to try to revitalize the area.

News 6 spoke by phone to the newly sworn-in commissioner for the district, Mike Scott.

Scott told News 6 he thinks the county should look at some long-term solutions on how to address housing needs, including the need for safety and better living arrangements for residents at Tymber Skan.


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About the Authors:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.