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Marion Leo Gavins Jr. Turns Himself In, Ending 36-Hour Search After Killing of Curtis Gray

| April 14, 2019

marion gavins jr

Marion Gavins Jr.

Last Updated: 7:54 p.m.

Marion Leo Gavins Jr., the 17-year-old Palm Coast suspect wanted in the shooting of Curtis Gray, 18, early Saturday morning, turned himself in to Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies this afternoon. He was arrested at the Palm Coast precinct, FlaglerLive has learned.


Gavins would not speak to investigators after he turned himself in, but immediately before he did so–apparently on the way to the precinct, as his mother was driving–he made a 66-second video, startling for its seeming incoherence and convulsions and perhaps less surprising for what message could be gleaned from it, since he was delivering it: he blamed Gray for “reaching first,” though there’s been no intimations or evidence that Gray was armed. “I ain’t worried about none of that shit, I’m gonna stay solid,” he says before unleashing a series of obscenities and slurs seemingly directed at those who “hate on me.”

Gavins’s arrest report indicates that Gavins thought Gray was armed when he was approaching him as he sat in a back-seat of an SUV near the smoke shop and laundromat where the shooting took place.

“Y’all don’t know the fucking situation, y’all assume shit,” he says, revealing that in his 36 hours in hiding he’d been keeping up with social media. He’d posted the video on his SnapChat account. (See the full clip to the right.)


Marion Gavins Jr.’s Statement Before Surrendering

After 36 hours of uninterrupted searches, traffic stops, surveillance flights, social and other media saturation and other means by the sheriff’s office that may have had the desired effect of closing like a vise around the suspect, Gavins’s mother, Krista Lee Maurer, contacted the sheriff’s office around 2 p.m. to arrange for a place and time to turn in her son. He faces a first-degree murder charge in the killing of Gray, a promising senior who’d started the year at Matanzas High School and had been attending Flagler Palm Coast High School.

Several people were in custody by 3 p.m., a sheriff’s spokesperson confirmed this afternoon, all of them related to the investigation. Though she would not confirm or deny that Gavins was among them, she said there was “definitely a major update,” with a news conference scheduled with Sheriff Rick Staly in Bunnell at 5:30 p.m. The only reason the conference is being delayed until then is to give Orlando and Jacksonville television stations time to get here. “That was just a courtesy time frame,” the spokesperson said.

Shortly after the news conference, the sheriff’s office released Gavins’s arrest report, which detailed for the first time the succession of events that led to the shooting. Gavins was one of seven people in a 2001 GMC Yukon that went to the strip mall near the Circle K gas station early Saturday morning. So was Teresa Salgado, whom detectives and deputies are still searching for. Gavins and Salgado were dropped off at the smoke shop while the five others drove on to the gas station. Gray entered the smoke shop several minutes afterward. Gray then left the store and went to speak with a friend in a car. Parts of the report are redacted. At some point Gavins and Salgado were back in the SUV’s rear seats. As the SUV was in reverse, Gray approached. Gavins, according to the report, told the driver to stop, pointed the gun at Gray and shot him in the abdomen, then pointed the gun at the driver and told the driver to head for 23 Woodfaire Lane. (The driver and other witnesses are not identified in the arrest report. See the full report as redacted by the sheriff’s office here.)

The Yukon was found there later that day, when a SWAT team served a warrant at the address.

The sheriff spoke to reporters at 5:45 p.m. outside the evacuated operations center. He commended his team for closing the investigation in 36 hours. He said Gavins was quickly identified as a person of interest after the shooting. He summarized the events of the last day and a half. Before noon today, a man was seen jumping the fence at the Woodfaire Lane house where the search warrant was served yesterday afternoon. After a car left the property, it was pulled over, and a .25-caliber handgun was found in the car. That’s not the weapon used in the shooting, the sheriff said. Two people were arrested as a result of that stop, but not in direct connection with the shooting.

Staly would not say whether the murder weapon has been recovered.

At 2 p.m., Gavins’s mother called a deputy and agreed to meet at the Palm Coast precinct office. She was there when Gavins turned himself in. “I appreciate Mom doing that, because let’s face it, we knew he had already killed one person,” Staly said. “These things can end very poorly for the suspect.” She was trying to keep her son safe, he said.

The sheriff getting ready to speak with reporters outside the evacuated operations center this afternoon. His wife Debbie, center, stood by, as the couple had been scheduled to be at the Palm Coast Arts Foundation's annual Picnics and Pops concert with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Town Center at 6 p.m. (c FlaglerLive)

The sheriff getting ready to speak with reporters outside the evacuated operations center this afternoon. (c FlaglerLive)

“I’ve already spoken with State Attorney R.J. Larizza and requested that he be charged as an adult,” the sheriff said. “This is a tragedy for two families,” he said, one that lost a promising athlete, another that may have a family member face the rest of his life in prison, or face the death penalty. (Gavins is to turn 18 in a month, making the death penalty option unconstitutional under current law.)

“Our tactics worked to quickly solve and apprehend this offender,” Staly said, crediting the team effort and Gabe Fuentes and Mark Moy, the detectives on the case.

“At this time we have no known motive for this senseless killing,” Staly said. He said Gray did make “a dying declaration that assisted in the investigation.”

The suspect and others were to be interviewed at the Flagler Beach Police Department’s interview rooms, because since the sheriff evacuated the agency’s own operations center in Bunnell, it hasn’t had interview rooms of its own for its detectives to work in. But Staly said Gavins invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not speak with deputies or detectives. He was taken directly to the county jail to be booked in.

“We have no doubt he was the trigger man, we had enough investigation done at that point to convince a judge to issue a first-degree warrant,” Staly said.

Marion Leo Gavins Jr.

Marion Leo Gavins Jr.

According to the sheriff’s office, Gavins, Curtis and others were outside a Palm Coast coin laundry shop off Palm Coast Parkway and Belle Terre Parkway after midnight Sunday when Gavins and Curtis had words, and Gavins allegedly shot Curtis in the stomach. Curtis was flown to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach but soon died.

Sheriff’s deputies and detectives had a relatively certain idea who their suspect was early on: Curtis had spoken to authorities before his death. They launched a wide-ranging and sustained search for Gavins, at one point executing a tense traffic stop off of Pine Lakes Parkway Sunday afternoon then surrounding a house in the W Section nearby, at 23 Woodfaire Lane, with the SWAT team. The house was searched but the suspect did not turn up. The agency late Saturday publicly announced the suspect’s name and sought the public’s help in the search, though by then the name and Gavins’s image had spread all over social media.

The sheriff’s office maintained the pressure Sunday, adding another publicly announced “person of interest” to its announced list and disseminating the person’s picture while continuing surveillance, a considerable police presence in the W Section and targeted patrols elsewhere. There was a self-assurance from the sheriff on down, reflected in confidence expressed by Chief Paul Bovino after the SWAT situation in the W Section yesterday, that it would be only a matter of time, and short time at that, before Gavins was located and apprehended.

The pressure appeared to pay off as Gavins’s mother made contact with authorities in early afternoon. (Gavins’s father is serving a 15-month stint in state prison after violating probation on a felony battery charge. Gavins’s parents have long been divorced.)

Gavins is well known among local police, having run up a criminal record as a juvenile that included drug and weapons charges. He was expelled from Indian Trails Middle School in 2013 after bringing a knife to school and, off campus, handing off a stolen Glock firearm to a friend. The sheriff’s office has not yet revealed what sort of weapon was used in Saturday morning’s shooting.

Curtis’s killing is the first non-traffic criminal death of a student in Flagler County schools since the murder of 17-year-old Skyler Dawn Meekins and her boyfriend by William Gregory in 2007. Meekins had been a star soccer athlete at Flagler Palm Coast High School and, like Gray, a fierce competitor. Gregory, 24 at the time, was convicted for the double-murder and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2017 after scores of death sentences in the state were found to have been imposed unconstitutionally.

Curtis’s family today set up a GoFundMe account: “We, his mother Carmen Gray and sister Destiny Gray are attempting to raise funds for the funeral service. Any donations are greatly appreciated. All proceeds will go towards the memorial as well as the funeral.” Go here to contribute.


33 Responses for “Marion Leo Gavins Jr. Turns Himself In, Ending 36-Hour Search After Killing of Curtis Gray”

  1. Troublespot says:

    As soon as I heard that there was a shooting by a laundromat, I knew exactly where this happened. I dropped off some fedex packages off at the Packrat shipping store after work Friday, and decided to buy some beer for the weekend at the Blaze smoke shop next door to the laundry… WOW… This is a head shop, selling drug paraphernalia, digital scales vaping devises Bongs glass bowls for smoking weed crack pipes you name it… VERY shady place the clientele were obviously stoned out of their minds, I was like how is this allowed in Palm coast? Not a day later theres a murder outside the store.

  2. Important information says:

    Please let the family know to find out if they are eligible for funeral costs since this young man was the victim of a crime. When my children’s father was killed by a drunk driver his funeral costs were paid for through this fund. I am not familiar with what the name of it is but someone in law-enforcement should be able to help with that. My heart goes out to them.

  3. Steve says:

    He murdered another human being Allegedly. Now if convicted he goes away forever. What a loss to the victims family.
    Good riddance to all those responsible.

  4. Anthony says:

    LONG LIVE CURTIS🏴‍☠️💙🕊
    WE LOVE YA BROTHA

  5. Anonstoner? says:

    Just because its a headshop does not mean it attracts bad people. All the products are legal to sell just as was the beer you mentioned. Funny how you try to find means of connecting it to the unfortunate murder that took place.

  6. Charles "Bub' Robson says:

    Good job by FCSO in getting the perp in handcuffs in short order. Good job by the deputies that got the dying declaration to id the perp quickly. Stay safe out there Officers.

  7. worried grandma says:

    Anytime, Anywhere to Anyone of us…..sad for both families. When he’s tried as an adult and sent to the big boys jail he may not speak so arrogantly.

  8. Outside Looking Out says:

    Typical Staley… the community has to wait 2 1/2 hrs so Wyatt Earp can get on TV.

  9. Gordie says:

    The Smoke shop has nothing to do with it, Troublespot.
    By the way, you shop there for beer, and according to you, it attracts a criminal element, so I guess that makes you a criminal.

    It’s a shame that a person had to die because our kids these days solve all their issues with violence. My condolences to the families involved.

  10. Pimp c says:

    What a real dumbass. Number one admitting guilt number two he’s the f boy who capped someone unarmed unlike a real man and handle with your hands. What a shame rip.karmas a B.

  11. outlaw says:

    This dude is delusional! Like it was do or die. How about go home before curfew and go read a book. That video should of had subtitles. “You feel me” Yeah, there’s going to be some feeling alright. Unfortunately, we have more of this floating around the county.

  12. Deez says:

    Yeah, because smoking marijuana makes you murder people for no reason. What an ignorant statement.

  13. K.B. says:

    It’s a sad tragedy that happened to both young men. It’s such a bad judgment we have in this day & time to have to choose a firearm to settle the battle for us. I remember when I grew up how it was just a simple fist fight & everyone walked away with a settled battle. Devil surely is busy & May we all pray for the victims family as well as a young man & his family who is now in the system headed for the big house that he has no knowledge of where he may end up.

  14. Susan Sisk says:

    Thank you sgt. Saley for keeping our streets safe!!!+

  15. Really says:

    The video reveals all one needs to know

  16. Marty Barrett says:

    While Staly requesting that the State Attorney file charges as an adult no doubt stoked his own ego about what he believes to be the importance of his own role in this process, in actuality, under Florida law, the State MUST file adult charges, no discretion.

  17. palmcoaster says:

    Thank you sheriff for the excellent work of applying the pressure that moved the mother to have her son give up himself to law enforcement preventing further tragedy. A 17 years old with a gun killing people thanks to our NRA funded politicians!
    I am close to 80 and I never needed to own a gun to defend myself a less offensive iron skillet or baseball bat will serve the purpose in case of home invasion, as I pay taxes for law enforcement to protect me and in my long life so far they done a great job.

  18. Anonymous says:

    @palmcoaster

    Actually it’s another example of violent criminals not following gun laws.

  19. FB says:

    Now I know I’m old. If I had used that language in front of my mother I’d have been grounded forever.

  20. Agkistrodon says:

    @palmcoaster, so you would be okay if he used, say a baseball bat? Do NOT blame an inanimate object, it did no harm. The most dangerous part of a firearm is the Human holding it. No firearm is anymore dangerous than another.

  21. Born and Raised Here says:

    This young man sounds like a wannabe gangster. Now he will learn that this is all real, and will face the consequences of .senseless actions

  22. thomas conrad says:

    Congrats and Thank You to FCSO for another job well done.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Even though the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is doing an unbelievable job .. they will never be without work in what should be a decent quiet city. This place is filled with jerk offs like this and it will continue to fill with jerk offs like this until massive changes are made.

    Also, What the hell is this moron saying in that video?? Is it even in English?? He keeps asking, “y’know I’m sayin?” … and then goes into some freakin foreign language or something. You POS!!

  24. gmath55 says:

    @ palmcoaster – “pay taxes for law enforcement to protect me and in my long life so far they done a great job”. LOL. Iron skillet or baseball bat to defend versus a person with a gun. Who do you think will win? The cops will get there in time to identify your body.

  25. The Realist says:

    palmcoaster says: I am close to 80 and I never needed to own a gun to defend myself a less offensive iron skillet or baseball bat will serve the purpose in case of home invasion, as I pay taxes for law enforcement to protect me and in my long life so far they done a great job

    You lived most of your life in a time when there wasn’t animals like this running around…As far as law enforcement being of any use in a home invasion,,,name one time they were at the scene as the event was occurring. I hope it never happens to you, but my hunch is when the cops responded to your home invasion or burglary they would find an 80 year old laid out on the floor that was beaten with an iron skillet or baseball bat (that was taken away from them).

    To quote this animal…. ‘You feel me?”

  26. Pcguy says:

    Marty Barrett, please cite this law that requires the DA to charge as an adult. Up to their discretion as far as I can see.

  27. nomorepitbulls says:

    I would have to say that 95% of the time…if not more….

    Neck Tattoo = Wanna be thug lowlife

  28. Julie a clough says:

    For the dude blaming the smoke shop…pffffffffffft…your missing all the points here…1st and foremost..this kid shot an unarmed kid from the safety of a vehicles back seat…takes a real man wouldn’t you say? 2nd Marijuana is gateway drug to the refrigerator you moron…if that’s all the kids these days did we would be in good shape..instead of blaming the head shop you need to place the blame where it goes…the criminal..the murderer..you can tell by the video he posted..he does not care one little bit about that boys life he took..not one bit..very stupid statement

  29. Troublespot says:

    My point was this is a shop that sells drug paraphernalia late at night. I can buy a 6pack of beer at the publix across the street, but I doubt I can also buy my choice of 3 foot glass water bongs, a digital scale, rolling papers and select between hundreds of crack pipes at the same publix. Clearly, this is a store that caters to the avid drug user, so there should be no surprise a criminal element frequents the location. Nobody believes for a second people are smoking tobacco or any legal substances out of these devises.

  30. Johnx says:

    Smoking marijuana can make some people psychotic. That is becoming increasingly well known, especially in countries where it has been legalized, as they do more studies.

  31. Frodo says:

    Hooked on Phonics clearly didn’t help this loser

  32. Eli says:

    For whomever wrote a negative comment blaming the smoke shop for the
    Incident was after working hours and it could have happened anywhere in the city like Walmart or any other place you won’t go there or say it’s the place fault !!!?. Do you know what kind of people walks by you everyday or what kinds of people going into Walmart C.V.S or to a doctor office all kinds of people comes to the store bad good and everything else all we do as respect everyone regardless of what they are .
    At blaze n flame there isn’t anything illegal to sell and there’s 7 other stores that are the same as the shop you mentioned.
    Sorry you didn’t feel comfortable here but it’s very disappointing to blame this at the place just so you know the 2 young guys who lost there life had an arguments and personal issues between each other’s what resulted to a very bad night to this city .

  33. Really says:

    Stayin solid all the way to the State Penn. For life… Its hard to even identify with that

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