tLast Updated: 3:49 p.m.
Three men were arrested two minutes after they allegedly were involved in a shooting spree at a house on Kalamazoo Trail Thursday evening, a shooting that caused ripples of alarm in the neighborhood.
A 21-year-old pregnant woman was in the house at the time of the shooting. She was not injured. The motive for the shooting is not yet clearly known, though a witness told detectives she had been on the phone with her cousin–the victim of the shooting– who referred to an argument involving Bennett and another individual, who wanted to “meet up and fight.”
The Sheriff’s Office soon after the shooting said there was no danger to the community at large.
The three men arrested are Jamey J. Bennett, 18, of 8 Selkirk Place in Palm Coast, Paul P. Pajotte, 25, either of 2888 Park Meadow Drive or 1325 Crawford Drive in Palatka (his county jail and state prison bookings have different information), and Randy Alexandre, 21, of 17955 NW 7th Avenue in Miami. Pajotte is on probation for identity fraud.
Two 16-year-old boys were also in the car–a Ford Fusion Alexandre had rented–that the group allegedly drove to the site of the shooting. They did not take part, a sheriff’s spokesperson said, and were released after being detained. Both juveniles are local residents.
Social media chatter linked the incident to retaliation for an altercation at Wadsworth Park the day before. In fact, the suspects’ arrest report refer to an allegation that Jamey Bennett was jumped by some 15 people in a fight in Palm Coast (the location is not specified), and that the incident stemmed from a previous incident between Bennett and a friend. The argument carried on through social media platforms, with threats uttered from both sides. It appears that one of those involved had lost a cousin recently, and that some of the people throwing insults had made fun of the fact, upsetting him deeply. As for Bennett, his sneakers were ripped off during the fight–when he was “jumped” by the 15 individuals–and one of his assailants taunted him on social media by wearing the sneakers and making fun of him, according to accounts the three men gave detectives.
The five individuals met up together, discussed a “game plan” at one point, drove, stopped several times and had discussions in pairs or as a group, according to arrest reports. Much of the talk centered around a fight. But it appeared at one point that one of the individuals who was supposed to meet the group for the fight was in Daytona Beach, and none of them wanted to drive down there. At which point Alexandre said: “I did not come all this way for nothing. We are shooting up the house.”
One of the 16 year olds was at the wheel of the car and was told to drive to the house on Kalamazoo Trail. “I’m not sure if there was an incident that day that led up to it but they all knew each other and got in the car together,” the Sheriff’s Office’s Brittany Kershaw said.
The shooting took place at 6:48 p.m. “Two minutes later our deputies were able to make a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle,” Kershaw said. “They took five people into custody. Two were released.”
The defendants’ arrest reports describes the traffic stop as “high risk.” Once the five individuals were secured, a deputy approached the car to determine if anyone else was in the silver car. “He did not see any other occupants but noticed the muzzles of two handguns protruding from both the front driver’s and passenger’s side seats,” the reports state.
There were bullet holes in the Chevrolet Cruz that was parked in the driveway of the home and there were bullet holes in the home itself.
A witness told detectives he saw the car parked in the road outside his house, and when other vehicles would pass by, the men who’d gotten out of the car several times would duck, which aroused the witness’ suspicions. He saw one of the men retrieve an unknown object from the truck, saw two of the individuals walk down the street a certain distance, then heard multiple gunshots. The vehicle then made a U-turn and left. The report doesn’t clarify if the vehicle left with all the occupants, but goes on to describe what video footage gathered from neighbors showed: the vehicle came to a complete stop in front of the victim’s residence, muzzle flashes were seen from the front passenger side of the vehicle, then from from the passenger side closer to the rear. One of the suspects got out of the rear passenger side and fired.
The vehicle then fled and was stopped shortly afterward.
There were claims that a number of students have not been allowed on campus at Flagler Palm Coast High School. The information is unverified, and Jason Wheeler, a district spokesman, said there had not been particular issues at the school–“no more so than any other day on a major High school campus.” He said he was not aware of students being kept from campus–an accounting that would be difficult anyway with the fluidity of attendance in covid-tainted days.
Yet there was little question that security had been stepped up at the school: a little after 2 p.m., the sheriff’s office had four patrol cars, lights flashing, in front of the school–not in the parking lot, but at the entrance gate and on the State Road 100 median.
Kristy Gavin, the district’s attorney, said in an interview in mid-afternoon, soon after learning that the two 16 year olds would not be charged, that at least “some of the students did come to campus today.” The district will handle the incident as it does all others involving such arrests of or involvement of students in criminal acts: it reviews the arrest reports and determines whether those involved can be returned to campus or would need alternative courses. “We would be notified by the Sheriff’s Office if they’re not being charged but still we need to take a look with respect to keeping students safe on campus,” Gavin said. That may entail no-contact orders on campus, or reverting to remote education options for some. “We’re just now looking into all of that,” she said. “Deans and AP’s are working on all of that.” (AP’s are assistant principals.)
Gavin said last night’s incident was “pretty significant,” and in such instances the agency will show extra support for students and staff on campus, “because you don’t know whether something is still going on and it’ll spill into the next day. So they’ll provide support just to ensure.” That was why there was a show of force outside the school today.
“I don’t know anything about them keeping students off campus at FPC regarding the shooting last night,” Kershaw said.
The sheriff’s office has received some video surveillance footage from neighbors that shows at least part of the shooting spree, which lasted about 20 seconds and involved three firearms, all recovered in the suspects’ vehicle: two .22-caliber guns and a Glock 19X. The Sheriff’s Office is requesting any additional video footage or information that the public may have, as the investigation is ongoing.
“They were taken into custody at 6:50, which is two minutes after the shooting, then it’s been an entire night of interviews and investigations,” Kershaw said of the three defendants. “There are still other people that are potentially involved.”
The three individuals were “eventually” cooperative with detectives, Kershaw said. “It took a long time, but yes they were cooperative with detectives and each gave their version of events, which were very similar.” The arrest reports put it this way: “none of the suspects were originally forthcoming, Each suspect only began to be truthful when they were confronted with undisputable facts and confronted with evidence, and codefendant statements.”
The shooting caused a shutdown of Kalamazoo Trail and Karas Trail Wednesday evening.