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3 Teens Linger in Jail Over Epic Theater Armed Robbery Allegation Even as Accuser, in Switch, Is Implicated

| January 12, 2017

A screen shot from a text by Dylan Straub showing the gun he intended to sell in a meeting at Epic Theater last Friday, following which Straub claimed to have been the victim of an armed robbery.

A screen shot from a text by Dylan Straub showing the gun he intended to sell in a meeting at Epic Theater last Friday, following which Straub claimed to have been the victim of an armed robbery.

Last Updated: 7:43 p.m.

A FlaglerLive Investigation

Friday evening at Epic Theaters in Palm Coast, 15-year-old Dylan Straub, a resident of the city’s F-Section, reported to sheriff’s deputies and to his father that he’d been robbed at gunpoint in front of the theater. His assailants, he said, had allegedly stolen his belt and his cell phone after putting two guns to his temples.

The accusation quickly led to the arrest of three teens: Trenton Nix, 15, of Palm Coast, Jahseem Jackson, 15, of Brandon, and Latiria Lewis-Hartline, 16, of Bunnell. They were all charged with armed robbery and incarcerated at the juvenile jail in Volusia County, where they remain even now.

But Straub had either lied or not told the whole story. It was Straub who’d orchestrated a meeting with the others at the movie theater. It was Straub who had brought a gun to the meeting in order to sell it to one of them. The deal broke down.

What happened after that is a mess of conflicting stories. Dylan reported to his father and to authorities that one of the boys took his gun and held it up to his head, and that one of the other teens had a gun, too, and that the trio supposedly proceeded to rob him of his gun, his belt and his cell phone before walking toward Bulldog Drive.

Cops stopped the trio not long after that. The belt and the cell phone were found. The guns were not. But there was no doubt of Straub’s arranging the meeting to sell the gun—a .380 semi-automatic that, according to what Straub told his father, had been given to him by another boy who had himself stolen the gun from his grandfather. But Straub no longer wanted the gun, so he arranged to sell it. And arranged the meeting on social media: the screen shots are there to prove it, as one of the alleged assailants’ mother soon found out.

dylan straub textsEarly this afternoon (Jan. 12), Mark Strobridge, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s chief spokesman, said there will be no case against either the three teens or against Straub, their accuser. “The state attorney’s office is not going to pursue any charges in this case on either side,” Strobridge said. The reason: “Conflicting testimony.”

“The whole case is falling apart,”  Strobridge said.

The conflicts were not limited to the juveniles’ differing stories. The case has been mired in confusion from law enforcement’s end as well.

Strobridge was under the impression that the three teens had been released from jail in Volusia. That was not the case. Yasmin Hernandez, the mother of Jahseem Jackson, had spoken to jail authorities as late as this afternoon and was told her son was still in custody, and that the jail had received no word of the charges being dropped, nor any direction to release the teens. Hernandez lives in Brandon. Her ex-husband lives in Bunnell. Because their son is a minor, either of them would have to be informed of his release so they could make arrangements to claim him. That has not happened. Nix’s mother also confirmed that her son had not been released either.

And in late afternoon, Strobridge himself confirmed that none of the teens were released. “I don’t know why they’re still in jail,” he said.

So three teens, two of them students at Matanzas High School, remain in jail almost a week after the incident even though the State Attorney’s Office had ostensibly decided not to pursue charges against them. Their accuser would not face detention—or any penalties.

But at 6:35 p.m., an hour and 15 minutes after this story published, Strobridge emailed FlaglerLive the following: “Regrettably, I have just learned that the information I received was not accurate on of the Epic robbery. The State Attorney’s Office has not made a determination regarding the prosecution of juveniles on the Epic case on with side. This case is still under review by the State Attorney. My statements were not correct.”

He said later that he had not spoken directly with the State Attorney’s Office when he learned of the supposed dropped charges, and that signals got crossed, mixing up different cases. Rather, the State Attorney’s Office has asked the Sheriff’s Office to further investigate the case.

The earlier confusion over her son’s fate, and what she perceived as false charges, had already left Hernandez livid. “I admit my son is an idiot, he should have never been there, he should never have associated with anybody who would be selling a firearm, I’m very angry with him over that,” she said in an interview. “But it’s unfair to me that my son Jahseem Jackson was arrested and charged with such a serious crime and Dylan Straub made a false report. There should be a consequence.” She was just as livid that her son remained in jail. (She’d made the three-hour drive from Brandon on Sunday for his first court appearance.)

Michael Straub, the father of Dylan, had contacted FlaglerLive Tuesday morning, surprised that the story of the alleged robbery had not made the news (it did so a few hours later), and concerned about security at the movie theater. He described the incident as it had been related to him by his son, and said the theater could use better security.

“They had the story out there for the lies I want my story out there for the truth.”

Hours after the story published, Hernandez contacted FlaglerLive, saying she had proof, from going into her son’s social media accounts, that Straub had arranged the encounter to sell a gun, and that his story of the armed robbery was a lie.

The text messages she produced did in fact show Straub contacting her son: “Heard u been tryna buy my gun.” It is clear from the texts that Jackson and Straub did not know each other, but that Straub had heard of Jackson’s alleged interest through another boy.

“Ya what kind is it,” Jackson wrote back.

“380,” Straub wrote.

“How much,” Jackson wrote.

“I’ll 280” was the answer.

After asking if Straub had video of the gun shooting (he did not), Jackson said he had “250.”

Straub appears to agree (“And ight that’s good,” he texted), and they work out a place to meet—first with Straub proposing a Wendy’s the next day, then the movie theater that evening—Friday, to which Jackson agreed.

The incident took place around 8:30 p.m., with only deputies responding to the theater. (It was not until almost 3:30 a.m. Saturday that Nix’s parents were informed by the sheriff’s office that their son had been arrested.)

In two brief interviews about the incident on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sheriff Rick Staly said the incident raised questions in his mind as to how the matter was handled from a policing perspective—namely, that there had been no detective dispatched to the scene despite the seriousness of the charge. Staly said not sending a detective has been the practice under the former administration—a practice he said he will change.

dylan straubAfter Hernandez conveyed the screen shots to the sheriff’s office, she was told the matter would be turned over to the State Attorney’s Office for it to decide whether charges would be filed.

No guns were recovered, there were no witnesses to the incident, and there was no video surveillance to fall back on.

Today Starub’s father, Michael Starub, was mortified, as he had also found out information about his son’s texts—he had taken possession of his phone—and had turned it over to sheriff’s deputies.  

“Come to find out that there’s a big twist to the story that I had no idea of, so that was a slap in my face,” said Straub, a business owner who’s lived in Palm Coast all his life—he’s a Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate—and who has six children between him and his wife, the oldest 22, the youngest 2.

He’d gone fishing the night the original story was published. When he got home around 8 p.m. and saw the claim by one of the boys that Dylan had arranged the meeting to sell the gun, “I was shocked,” Straub said. “It took a couple of hours to get the story straight from Dylan, but he did, he did have intentions on going there and selling these people a gun. And they robbed him of it, and they already had pistols, so they robbed him of his pistol, cocked it, put both guns to his head, and told him that if he said anything that they’d blow his ffing head off, so they proceeded to rob him of his belt and his cell phone. So what I did is yesterday morning I went right to the police department. We made everything right with them.”

In the interview, Straub was under the impression that the three teens would be charged with armed robbery, “but there probably will be charges brought up on my son as well, so that’s a big slap in my face,” he said, describing himself as very much involved in his son’s and his other children’s lives, and as a strict father. “I am just shocked, because this is not Dylan,” he said. “So hopefully things will go right, Dylan will start doing some volunteer work here at the Humane Society and he will be active.”

Straub said his son had acquired the gun from another teen who lives in the F-Section sometime in December but that he’d no longer wanted to own it, so he arranged to sell it.

Straub was asked why his son was interested in the gun in the first place. “I think he was just, ‘a gun, oh my god, yeah,’ without knowing consequences,” Straub said, “because I do not own a gun here in my house whatsoever, so he has never been around a gun, ever.” Starub asked his son the same question. “He basically said, you know, I really don’t know Dad, it wasn’t to be used for anything, he’s just as lost as—he’s just as distraught about this whole thing as everybody else. I don’t think he meant to cause a problem, just by the way he was talking.”

He added: “I know Dylan made me look like a fool, which I still can’t believe, and I’m just shocked about it. He ain’t going to be doing nothing for a long time. I mean, I took his door off. There’s no more shutting that door, you lost that privilege, and you lost my trust, so you’re doing to have to build that back up.”

For Hernandez, Jackson’s mother, her son should never have been charged with armed robbery and jailed. “They had the story out there for the lies,” she said, “I want my story out there for the truth.”

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19 Responses for “3 Teens Linger in Jail Over Epic Theater Armed Robbery Allegation Even as Accuser, in Switch, Is Implicated”

  1. gio says:

    the kid dylan should be getting charges pressed on him for false claim and attend to sell a gun

  2. The Geode says:

    The biggest crime is selling a hot .380 for $280…

  3. PCer says:

    So where are all the guns now?

  4. RickG says:

    Great reporting… Its stories like this that keeps me coming back to

  5. Anonymous says:

    So if the belt and cell phone was found by the police but not the gun they still robbed the Straub boy. Am I right?

  6. PC says:

    Its all about having the right pigmentation in Palm coast…. white kid gets his door taken away minority kids get a jumpsuit and jail cell seems fair

  7. Sam says:

    They all need to do some community service, non of them are old enough to buy, own or possess a hand gun. The worst part a stolen handgun that could have end up being used to commit a crime or worst kill someone.

  8. 20 something F PC says:

    Obviously there are two guns hidden somewhere by the movie theater. Someone should probably get on that before more children get their hands on them.

  9. palmcoaster says:

    Law enforcement 2017 in this county in the wrong foot. 3 black kids in juvenile jail and the white one proven selling illegally a gun free as a bird? Excuse me but I call that racist! We are to a very bad start…There should be equal punishment for all..

  10. DM says:

    Before these kids were arrested there were entirely different rumors going around among the kids…. so that’s probably why the others haven’t been released. That idiot may have had a gun, but I got specifics about one of those other pricks that may have involved my very own stolen firearm.

  11. DRedder says:

    Prosecute them all. Then offer each an ACD pending community service and a full payment on the bill for the cost of the investigation and court costs.

  12. Mik says:

    Is that what happened tonight? I went to see that new horror movie and well we got evacuated apparently there was a gun and we all ran for our lives. I’m still shaking.

  13. Bill says:

    And just last night at the theater a gun scare emptied a showing. Again young teens at fault or should I say their parents are at fault for razing such?

  14. Rlon says:

    Palm coaster. You have your info wrong. The three in jail are not all black. it is really important to have your “facts” correct before you try and make a bold incorrect racial statement. The whole situation is dangerous. Kids selling guns, kids buying guns and robbing people of their “belts”. This is not racial, it is more proof that many of the children today are over entitled who skirt through life avoiding consequences.

  15. Andre says:

    @palmcoaster not all of them are black, Trenton is white and he is also locked up.

  16. Nancy W says:

    Calling color the reason is inaccurate, no gun was recovered so right now there is no proof that the kid sold one to the other three. More worrisome is where is the gun? Someone has it, but not the three in jail. Does this kid still have it? Another gun on the streets in the hands of the wrong person can be dealdly.

  17. Dee K Griggs says:

    Rich,poor,white or different skin color most parents do their best to raise their kids
    At some point in their teen years the kids deceide they know everything and this being 2017 were out of touch with what is going on.
    Thanks to Fl laws reguardlesd of their age even over 18-60 if they live in your home you can’t just tell them to leave. A law that very.much needs to change. All parents don’t have $400-$500. To go through legal proceedings to have their child of age removed from their home
    Don’t put the blame on the parents your kids can go to bed one night the well behaved law biding one you raised and get up the next day and it’s like your great kid that would never do such a thing is someone you no longer know.
    You have no recourse. So I say write to Gov Scott get the laws changed where you don’t have to come up with a bundle of money to have them removed from your home when they no longer show respect or listen to you as an authority.

  18. Palm Coast Resident says:

    PC, Andre, palmcoaster and the rest of you so called social justice warriors AKA millennials without jobs!!! I am as white as people come and when I was 14 I was caught with a stolen .22 handgun which I acquired from someone who robbed a parent and I did 9 months in Juvenile detention. I believe the main difference between me and you the “social warrior” was when I was no longer a kid I put the childish crap in the past and learned from my mistakes instead of blaming others.

  19. DM says:

    I agree with some of the above regarding not entirely blaming the parents, but as a parent they have the right and obligation to get involved with their children. I have one in HS and one in MS and both of them knew all about this story before it “hit the news.” They knew these kids have been stealing things including burglaries and stolen cars. All these kids are claiming to be in gangs and were bragging about everything from pistols to AR’s. What I’m getting at is SPEAK TO YOUR CHILDREN! Find out what they know about this. You’re going to be surprised. I was.
    One more thing… agree with earlier comment that this isn’t a black/white/etc thing. However, ALL of these kids involved with this story and the recent burglaries are BAD KIDS. If you’re a relative or friend, sorry for breaking the news but these kids are all implicated. If you can help them, get to work.

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