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Suspect in killing of Temple student Samuel Collington — who had been arrested and released after a July carjacking — surrenders to police

Latif Williams was in custody earlier this year in connection with a gunpoint carjacking. He was released on house arrest, and charges were later withdrawn when a witness failed to show in court.

A teddy bear lies as a memorial on the spot where Temple University student Samuel Collington was shot and killed in North Philadelphia.
A teddy bear lies as a memorial on the spot where Temple University student Samuel Collington was shot and killed in North Philadelphia.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

The teenage suspect in the killing of Temple University student Samuel Collington during a botched carjacking over the weekend surrendered to police Wednesday, officials said in a statement without elaborating.

Earlier, officials had identified Latif Williams, 17, of Olney, as the person they said shot the 21-year-old Collington on Sunday on the 2200 block of North Park Avenue, near the school’s North Philadelphia campus. The student had just returned after spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his family in Prospect Park, Delaware County.

Lawyers representing Williams — Patrick Link and Marni Jo Snyder — said in an emailed statement: “Latif was fully cooperative with police upon learning of his arrest warrant, and he turned himself in voluntarily this evening. We are in the process of investigating the facts of this case and we expect his presumption of innocence to be maintained throughout the judicial proceedings.”

Investigators said they used video and forensic evidence found at the scene to link Williams to the killing, and law enforcement sources said he is under investigation in connection with several armed robberies in the area.

In August, Williams had been in custody in connection with a gunpoint robbery but was released and prosecutors later withdrew the charges. According to court records, a man told police that late on July 31, he was giving Williams and a second male a ride to a restaurant when Williams pointed a gun at his head and told him to get out of the car.

The driver told police he complied, then the pair fled with the car. Police found the vehicle the next day, and the driver told investigators his handgun was missing from the trunk.

» READ MORE: Friends and professors remember slain Temple student as kind and courageous: ‘He would fight for anybody’

Williams was arrested Aug. 14 and charged with aggravated assault, robbery, and related counts. His bail was initially set at $200,000 and he was detained. At a bail hearing less than a week later, Municipal Court Judge Joffie C. Pittman III allowed Williams’ release on unsecured bail, meaning he would need to pay bail only if he violated the terms of his release. Pittman ordered him released on house arrest.

In September, prosecutors dropped the charges before a preliminary hearing at which they would have had to show that there was probable cause to believe Williams had committed a crime.

Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, said the decision to withdraw the case was made because a key witness didn’t appear in court. She said the incident “remains under active investigation, and our office continues to pursue accountability for that crime.”

Williams’ attorney in that case didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.

The robbery and shooting death of Collington was the second near Temple’s campus in two weeks. On Nov. 16, Ahmir Jones, 18, was fatally shot in the chest just after 2 a.m. on the 1700 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

A police spokesperson said Jones and his girlfriend were approached by two men and one of them grabbed the girlfriend’s cellphone. Police said the other shot Jones in the chest, and both fled.

Police didn’t respond Wednesday to additional questions about Jones’ death, including whether a suspect had been identified. It was unclear if the two killings were related.