In a major break in two related murder cases, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly today announced the arrests of three of four individuals in the shooting deaths earlier this year of Noah Smith and Keymarion Hall, both 16, both in South Bunnell, both in drivebys resulting from a simmering feud between wannabe gangs in Bunnell and Palm Coast.
Smith and Hall were not involved, nor were the intended targets. Terrell Sampson, 18, was, both times.
“I want to emphasize again, the victims of the homicides were good kids. They were innocent victims. They were not the intended targets of the drive by shootings,” Staly said. The fathers of both young men spoke briefly this afternoon to thank the sheriff and his team, and to appeal for any means that would end the spree of violence.
The shootings, Staly said, were the culmination of a series of social media taunts, insults and dares, frequently by way of homemade hip-hop videos that at times named the intended targets, and that emerged out of “wannabe badasses,” as Staly described them, some of them in Bunnell, some of them in Palm Coast, with ties to Daytona Beach. The sheriff stopped short of calling the killings gang-related, but said the “criminal thugs” (he used the word carefully, aware of its potential connotation) could have ended up in gang activities had they not been arrested.
All three of the young men arrested are facing first-degree murder charges, and one of them, Devandre Williams, faces two first-degree murder charges, one for each of the two 16-year-old victims.
Sampson, who is also facing murder charges–second degree murder and attempted second degree murder–is the fourth person wanted by detectives. He was arrested on a weapons charge–possession of a weapon by a delinquent adult felon–and booked at the Flagler County jail on May 5, only to bond out two days later after posting bail on $100,000 bond, possibly surprising authorities.
Murder charges were served on the three others earlier this afternoon.
“Nothing surprises me in the environment and the world that these kind of people live in,” Staly said of Sampson bonding out before detectives could bring charges. “It doesn’t surprise me, it was disappointing. We haven’t been able to find him yet, but hopefully he’ll turn himself in.” Staly in a news conference today urged Sampson to turn himself in in a direct message: “Turn yourself in now. You are safer facing your charges than being on the street looking over your back all the time, wondering when the other groups are gonna get you because that’s what killed two beautiful young kids in our county. We will not stop until we arrest you.”
Those arrested are Tyrese Patterson, 20, of 605 Hymon Circle in Bunnell. He was initially arrested on May 13 and held on $150,000 bond. Stephen H. Monroe, 23, of 219 Cummins Street in Oak Hill was held on a probation violation and no bond since May 19. And Williams, who just turned 18, of 84 Karas Trail in Palm Coast, was arrested on June 3. Patterson and Williams were initially charged similar to the one facing Sampson.
Patterson, Monroe and Williams all face first-degree murder charges in the death of Noah Smith. Williams is also charged in the death of Hall. And the charges against Sampson are in connection with the death of Hall.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza, who appeared alongside Staly and with a small contingent of detectives who worked more than 2,500 hours on the cases, did not say whether he would seek the death penalty in any of the cases.
“So I hope these offenders get the maximum sentence there Mr. Prosecutor,” Staly told Larizza. “Not to put you on the spot. We work close with you, and now you have to prosecute.”
“These kinds of cases are complex, and it’s going to take a lot of effort and time to put them together for trial. But we will,” Larizza said. “We will because justice, which equals accountability, demands that we put our best efforts forward. And finally all I’d like to say to the communities–Bunnell, Palm Coast I mean, I could go on and on Daytona Beach, Spring Hill, a lot of other communities within the Seventh Circuit that are suffering from their children being killed and children killing their children: Help us to put an end to this. Help us to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Bunnell Police Chief Dave Brannon also acknowledged the sheriff’s office’s investigations and warned would-be criminals to stay away from Bunnell and Palm Coast.
Smith was shot and killed in January. Hall, 16, was shot and killed in early May.
The investigations included the serving of 40 search warrants, 80 interviews and 12 investigative subpoenas, and yielded an additional six arrests of individuals not directly involved in the murders. The additional people arrested “are closely involved in a criminal activity that has been occurring in South Bunnell and in parts of Palm Coast,” Staly said.
Detectives had to overcome a code of silence on the streets or conflicting stories they’d hear from different people to make a case involving “certain members of the community [who] preferred to take street justice into their own hands instead of assisting law enforcement,” the sheriff said. The “badasses” were split between a Bunnell side and a Palm Coast side.
As Staly described it, it all started last year when Jeba Johnson, 19–held at the county jail on numerous charges since April, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon–shot at a vehicle driven by Williams in Bunnell. In late December Johnson and 20-year-old Josiah Feimster were involved in another shooting involving a “wannabe gang” called Get Stepped On, or GSO, in Palm Coast. Then came homemade videos by Monroe, a member of GSO, and other members of the group, posing with firearms, allegations or an armed robbery involving another man and his mother, yet another armed robbery outside Carver Gym that members of GSO filmed to embarrass the victim, and so on–until members of GSO drove to Bunnell to taunt Sampson and his group, and shoot him.
That’s when Smith, a mere bystander, was shot and killed, even as the shooters were playing a rap song focused on a man killed in front of witnesses. Weeks later another local homemade video rapped around the shooting of Smith even as it made clear that Sampson had been the intended target. Between the videos, the social media postings, the numerous selfies the boys and men took of themselves, holding up weapons, and other means, detectives were able to put together their case. Staly at one point held up copies of the selfies, thanking the suspects for leaving such a copious trail of self-incriminating evidence. And he repeatedly credited the team of detectives who worked the cases, some of them coming ion from their vacations to be at the news conference.
“We are not going to give up,” Sgt. George Hristakopoulos, who lead the team of investigators, said. “The sheriff does not accept anything less than success from us. And we don’t expect to accept anything less from ourselves.”
Staly said those already arrested did not speak with detectives, at least not at first. “Once people realize that their cloak of secrecy disappears or the people are being arrested and charged with a crime, then people start remembering things and start to be more forthcoming,” he said.
It’s time for Black leaders in the community to organize and publicly make a unified statement to denounce these degenerates who think getting a “rep” for being a badass is an achievement.
Im sure they will be released in 24 hours. Flagler just plays games with theses guys. Always was large number of gangs in palm Coast.
Deborah Coffey says
“Nothing surprises me in the environment and the world that these kind of people live in,” Staly said of Sampson bonding out before detectives could bring charges. No, no one is surprised with over 400 million GUNS floating around the USA.
Nanci Whitley says
Has Staly ever stood up for any federal gun laws that have been proposed over the years? I haven’t heard him.
None of the above pictured jokers would last two minutes on the streets of Baltimore or New York.
The Geode says
…just as you wouldn’t last in the streets they came from. I still don’t know what point you’re trying to make when the results are the same regardless of the city
Sad, please give them the maximum sentence please. What are these young men thinking about. Yhry are my color, why kill? Don’t understand and probably never will. Innocent lives gone. Sad.
Good work, detectives! I know how difficult it is, and how many man hours it takes to ultimately put a case together when you know there are witnesses to a violent crime but they don’t come forward and say what they know happened. Now its up to the prosecution to hopefully put these killers away for a long time.
Everyone sees on here that they are charged and think that’s it. Follow up and see if they are actually found guilty or if they walk. Because thats happening.
Dennis C Rathsam says
Its time to do something about gang violence. Who are the parents of these gang members? Its time to start knocking on doors & inform the parents of whats going on…Tell them if little johnny gets in trouble again, put the parents in jail.
The Unvarnished Truth says
…or make DEFUND WELFARE an option and I GUARANTEE the parent would take more of an interest in the self-raised children
Public Outcry says
Where did the sheriffs office post go? The one with the crying Stephen Monroe? Staly got backlash from the public for the “distasteful post” and now it’s gone? Isn’t that against some sort of media law for a law enforcement agency to remove a post?