Last Updated: 10:49 a.m.
Noah Smith, a 16-year-old student at Flagler Palm Coast High School and a Bunnell resident, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting late Wednesday night in Bunnell. Smith died later at the hospital.
The shooting was reported on South Anderson Street shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, when up to 20 shots were heard. The suspect or suspects in a vehicle drove off, triggering a search in the Ormond Beach area, though others were involved in the shooting in Bunnell. Preliminary indications suggest Smith may have been caught in a crossfire. He was shot in the abdomen.
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and Bunnell police searched the areas around South Anderson Street and detained some individuals. Not long after the shooting, a man–presumably Smith–with a gunshot wound was brought to the emergency room at AdventHealth Palm Coast in a civilian vehicle that then left the scene. By 11 p.m. authorities already had a few suspects’ names. At least one K-9 unit was involved in the search of woods around the shooting zone.
“Our PD is basically working on the case,” Bunnell City Manager Alvin Jackson said. “I understand that Bunnell has taken the lead, Chief [Brannon] Snead and the PD.” Jackson said he had not yet been fully briefed and could not tell whether any suspects were in custody. “I know they didn’t leave the scene until about 6 a.m.,” he said. Snead did not return calls to his cell.
“I spoke with the interim chief last night around 11 p.m., right when this thing happened, and asked him what he needed–whatever he needed, we would provide,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said this morning. Snead told the sheriff that he’d brought back Kyle Totten as a detective, who is now on the case. “We are assisting with one detective, our CSI and our Real Time Crime Center,” Staly said. “They have a capable detective. We will support them as requested. They’ve had shooting investigations before that they’ve handled.” Staly said he was not aware of anyone in custody.
As of late-morning Thursday, and other than Jackson’s brief interview with FlaglerLive, Bunnell had yet to release any information about the shooting.
Staffers at FPC were informed of Smith’s death this morning, though the message did not identify the student by name–only that a student’s life was lost.
“We are aware from law enforcement that an FPC student was involved in an off-campus incident last night,” Jason Wheeler, the district’s chief spokesman, said this morning. “We have counselors available, they’ve been on campus since before the first bell. It’s our normal emergency protocols to give support wherever it’s needed.” If a teacher, staffer or student requests to talk with somebody, they’ll meet privately in a small room. There are no security issues anticipated at FPC today. There were a couple of extra deputies outside of campus in the morning, however. “We don’t anticipate any extra needs for anything else,” Wheeler said.
Wednesday evening FPC and Matanzas had met in a basketball match. There was a disturbance at the game. It’s not clear whether that was related to the incident that unfolded later.
“We at Flagler Schools are heartbroken over this,” Wheeler said. “It’s a senseless loss of life. Right now it doesn’t make any sense to any of us, and we just hope that law enforcement brings a quick conclusion to this case. Any time you lose a student no matter the circumstances it’s tough on everyone.”
Jackson said the city was preparing for the annual Martin Luther King Day commemoration on Saturday, with a prayer breakfast and a motorcade parade that is to start at the Carver Center, loop through the city, then back to Martin Luther King Avenue and the gym.
Smith is the second FPC student lost to a shooting in less than three years. Curtis Gray, 18, was shot and killed in Palm Coast in April 2019. His assailant, Marion Gavins Jr., was sentenced to 45 years in prison last October. Another teen, 17-year-old Elijah Rizvan, was shot and killed in a drug deal in July 2019 involving four others. One of the four, Benjamin Allen, 16 at the time, was arrested, tried and acquitted last May.