Authorities in Florida said a 14-year-old boy, who shot and killed his 23-year-old sister during an argument over Christmas gifts, was also shot by his teen brother a few seconds after the initial incident, NBC News reported.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri at a news conference said the fatal incident occurred on Christmas Eve, adding that the argument stemmed from a dispute over who was getting more Christmas presents. Gualtieri said the teens, identified as Damarcus Coley, 14, and 15-year-old Darcus Coley, had gone shopping with their mother and deceased sister at the time.
Gualtieri also said the argument did not stop after the deceased victim, identified as Abrielle Baldwin, got to their grandmother’s home with her two brothers. Baldwin’s 11-month-old and 6-year-old children were also at the home.
Gualtieri said that during the argument, Damarcus “stood in the doorway, he took out his .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun, and he pointed it at [his brother] and told him he was going to shoot him in the head.”
An uncle is said to have subsequently stepped in to separate the brothers after Damarcus attempted to start a fight with Darcus. The uncle also took the 14-year-old boy outside.
Gualtieri said Baldwin was also outside with her 11-month-old child at the time, adding that she told her 14-year-old brother, “You all need to leave that stuff alone. Why are you trying to start it? It’s Christmas.”
Gualtieri said Baldwin and Damarcus then got into an argument. The 14-year-old is said to have hurled “derogatory” words at her sister before he opened fire on her. Baldwin was holding her 11-month-old baby in a carrier when Damarcus shot her, NBC News reported. The child did not sustain any injuries after the minor and her mother fell following the shooting.
In the wake of the initial shooting, Darcus came outside and shot his 14-year-old brother because he had shot their sister. “You shot my motherf—— sister!,” Darcus is said to have shouted before shooting his brother. The 15-year-old was said to be armed with a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun.
Gualtieri also said the two shootings happened within an “eight second gap.” Damarcus was also not armed with his gun at the time he was shot. Following the shootings, Darcus fled the scene, disposed of his gun, and went to a family member’s home.
Baldwin also later succumbed to her injuries in a hospital. “She was just a woman going about life, doing her thing with her two kids,” said Gualtieri. “Now you got an 11-month-old and a 6-year-old boy, and their mom’s dead.”
Damarcus’ condition was listed as stable after he underwent surgery. He faces a slew of charges including first-degree murder, child abuse, and being a delinquent in possession of a firearm. The Pinellas-Pasco County State Attorney’s Office is yet to decide if he would be charged as an adult.
Authorities also said Darcus was ultimately “located and taken to a mental health facility due to self-harm statements and will be transferred to the custody of the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center once he is released.” He has since been charged with attempted first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.
Authorities retrieved the murder weapon but were unable to locate the .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun used by Darcus. During investigations, Gualtieri said that people in the area told authorities that the teen brothers “carried guns all the time.”
The sheriff said the brothers managed to obtain the guns by “stealing them from unlocked cars, they’re out in the middle of the night doing car burglaries.” Gualtieri added that the brothers were initially arrested over multiple car burglaries in May.
“These young kids, 14, 15 years old, routinely carry firearms, and this is what happens when you got young delinquents that carry guns; they get upset they don’t know how to handle stuff, so they just take out their guns and start shooting each other, and one of them kills his sister,” the sheriff added.
Damarcus has also had run-ins with the law since he was 12 years old. Gualtieri said his previous charges include being a minor in possession of a gun, disorderly conduct, grand theft auto, auto burglaries, and battery on a school employee, NBC News reported.
“This proliferation of guns in the streets and guns in this area and guns in the hands of these kids is the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t think we’ve ever seen it this bad. I really think we need tougher laws to deal with these kids. They are not getting the consequences they should get,” the sheriff said. -Face2Face Africa