Man accused of killing neighbor to be ‘TikTok famous’ now charged with assault in SWFL
A Southwest Florida man, who New Jersey prosecutors say killed a man to be famous on Tiktok, was arrested Sunday in Lee County after another motorist said the man threatened him on the road.
The victim waved down a Florida Highway Patrol trooper shortly after 11 p.m., and said another driver confronted him and brandished a firearm on Meridian Center Parkway, which is off Ben Hill Griffin Parkway.
Troopers located the vehicle in question and stopped it on Alico Road underneath the I-75 overpass.
The car was driven by Zachary Thomas Latham, 18. The FHP said Latham was carrying a driver’s license with a Cape Coral address, but the Lee County Sheriff’s Office booking information lists a Naples address.
Troopers discovered a black Airsoft BB gun resembling a real AK-47 and placed Latham under arrest on a felony charge of aggravated assault.
Lt. Greg Bueno with the FHP says witnesses heard Latham bragging about killing his neighbor, who was a corrections officer.
Latham also faces a second charge of aggravated assault for attempting to intentionally ram the victim’s vehicle. He was released around 4 p.m. Monday from the Lee County Jail on $40,000 bond.
Latham is awaiting trial in New Jersey on several charges, including first-degree aggravated manslaughter, in the May 4, 2020, death of a 51-year-old neighbor, William Durham.
A friend of Latham’s neighbors claims Latham almost hit a teenage boy while driving, so Durham, the boy’s father and a corrections officer, confronted Latham, leading to a fight and Durham being stabbed several times by Latham, authorities say.
The incident followed a months-long dispute with several run-ins between Latham and the Durhams that were frequently posted on TikTok by Latham and his wife. One TikTok video garnered as many as 3 million views. In it, Latham taunts a woman he dubbed “Karen,” who was actually Durham’s wife Catherine.
The victim’s attorney claims Latham did it all for TikTok fame, while Latham’s attorney says it was self-defense. In the 911 call after the stabbing, Latham says, “I just got assaulted and jumped … I got beat up really bad and I have blood all over me.”
Authorities say Latham went back to his home prior to the fight and returned with a knife and a Taser.
Lathem also faces second-degree aggravated assault and related weapons offenses in the New Jersey case. He was released from jail to await trial and moved to Naples.
WINK News spoke with Latham’s brother-in-law on Monday, and he said he hopes Latham learns his lesson.
The New Jersey prosecutor handling Latham’s case will ask that Latham be extradited back to that state and put behind bars.