Police link shootings to gangs
Shots were fired early Sunday at three locations; one injured
By TaMaryn Waters
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER
Tallahassee police think a series of shootings early Sunday may be linked to a rivalry between gangs.
Although shots were fired at three locations in two hours, only one person was injured. Three people have been arrested, including two juveniles.
The first shooting was reported around midnight in the 2600 block of North Monroe Street. Tallahassee police Lt. Bryan Donaldson said witnesses saw two vehicles involved in a "rolling shootout."
Officers began looking for the two vehicles when a call came in about another shooting in the 1400 block of Alabama Street, where a 15-year-old boy had been shot in the foot. He was later taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and released.
Shortly thereafter, Officer David Alford heard shots while patrolling Gibbs Drive and saw a maroon Nissan drive off. Alford pursued the car, but the driver didn't stop.
A homeowner then called police back to the 1600 block of Gibbs Drive to say someone had shot into her home. The suspects reportedly fired between 20 to 25 shots into the house. No one was injured. Police think this may be the house of one of the people involved in an earlier report of shots being fired.
Donaldson said officers later spotted a maroon car parked in the 1700 block of North Monroe Street near Publix. The car was empty, but officers saw three people flee. A K-9 unit assisted in finding the suspects, 18-year-old Jermar Tillie, a 17-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy. Tillie was charged with firing a weapon into a dwelling, use of a firearm during a felony and resisting an officer without violence. The 17-year-old, who police said had several outstanding warrants, was arrested on five charges, including aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and firing a weapon into a dwelling. The 15-year-old was charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding, hit-and-run and resisting arrest without violence.
Donaldson said the incidents stemmed from a rivalry between gangs operating in the northern and western parts of the city. Police say Tillie has been involved in gang-related activity. It's not clear what caused the series of shootings, but police have ruled out drug-related activity.
"Our gang unit assisted greatly in identifying most of the members involved, but there are still members at large," Donaldson said.
The police department created a gang-response unit last May as a result of increasing incidents involving local gangs. The unit has identified at least 70 people linked with local gangs.
Capt. David Hendry, who heads the unit, said more serious crimes often stem from seemingly minor occurrences, such as a fistfight or argument.
"About this time last year, we noticed a problem among juveniles," he said. "Typically, people think of L.A. when they think of gangs. Our activity is a little different, but we see it as a growing problem." Hendry added that gang-related incidents "happen off and on, with some frequency," but there hasn't been a major occurrence lately.
He said the purpose of the gang-response unit is to "identify and disrupt." Officers attempt to pinpoint suspects and later involve their parents, who often aren't aware their child is in a gang.
Just several months ago, I saw the suspect that was arrested in one of these shootings, he was being led away after shooting two people in a club. Aahhh, the wonders of the juvenile justice system.
Shot in the foot? Was he a professional or something?