Teens arrested in Lakeland Farmer's Market shooting | News
LAKELAND, Fla. -- They may have young looking faces, but deputies say don't be fooled. A group of seven teens between 13 and 18 years old are facing attempted murder charges, accused of gunning down a 79-year-old flea market worker after he refused to sell them a gun.
"Apparently he probably told them to get lost, you're too young, you don't have ID," said flea market worker Ron Goldman. "They didn't like the answer, so they got some more punk friends and now the guy is fighting for his life in the hospital."
Deputies say the shooting happened last weekend at the Lakeland Farmer's Market. When the unidentified worker refused to sell two of the teens a firearm, deputies say they left, then returned with some friends, using a hammer to smash out the display case then opening fire on the man behind the counter.
"I think it's a shame," said Goldman. "Here he is trying to make a few extra bucks on the weekend and I want to know where the parents are of these kids."
Sheriff's investigators Sunday announced the arrest of five suspects in the case. They're identified as 18-year-old Bernando Copeland, 17-year-old Khalid Preston, 15-year-old D'ante Morris, 16-year-old Ladarius Johnson, and 16-year-old Dwight Martin.
Two other teens, the youngest in the group, remain at large. They're identified by the sheriff's office as Davion Smith and Kendall Wainwright, just 13 and 14 years old.
"All of the suspects responsible for this senseless act of violence will go to jail," said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd. "Our detectives are working around the clock. This investigation isn't over."
A teen who lives near one of the suspects said he went to school with some of those involved and can't believe his classmates are now wanted in connection with an attempted murder.
"I chill with them at school," said the student. "They don't do nothing like that. They just go to school and do their work and come home."
Tonight, that 79-year-old shooting victim remains in stable condition at Lakeland Regional Medical Center recovering from a gunshot wound to the stomach. A cash reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the two remaining suspects.