Teen, 14, faces adult murder charges in connection with Ybor City shooting
A teenager being held on gun charges in relation to the Oct. 29 shooting that killed two and injured 16 now faces an adult count of second-degree murder.
A 14-year-old faces second-degree murder charges in connection with an October shooting in Ybor City that killed two people.
The teen, who WUSF is not naming, was already being held on gun charges in connection with the shooting after his arrest in Palm Beach. Tampa police say he was set to be released from jail on Wednesday.
Instead, he now faces murder charges as an adult in connection with the death of Harrison Boonstoppel, 20.
Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said videos of the shooting and witness reports, as well as bullet casings found at the scene, led to the new charges, which also include attempted aggravated battery and attempted murder.
At a news conference Wednesday evening, Bercaw said that they're continuing to investigate the shooting, which also injured 16.
"While this arrest is a huge and significant development in this case, our work is not done. We will continue to hold those accountable for any act of violence in this incident and any other incident in the city of Tampa," Bercaw said.
Tampa police continue seeking additional shooters and are asking the public for information.
"This is just senseless, and we have to do something as a community to make it better for everybody, and I plan on doing that. We can do something — I know people feel defeated about how everything's gone. This is about guns, but it's about why are these kids out there with guns?"Brucie Boonstoppel, mother of Ybor City shooting victim
Hillsborough State Attorney Suzy Lopez said the teen has 11 pending juvenile cases from crimes he is accused of committing when he was 13 and younger. Those cases include aggravated assault, battery, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and six robberies.
"This defendant is a perfect example of why we must take a strong stance against juvenile gun violence in our community," Lopez said. "He is no stranger to the juvenile justice system, but he will no longer be treated as a juvenile. When you shoot and kill an innocent person, your age does not matter."
The shootings took place Oct. 29 as Seventh Avenue bars full of people were closing. Police said a fight between two groups broke out just before 3 a.m. when the shooting started.
More than 20 shots were fired, according to video posted online.
Tyrell Phillips, 22, was charged shortly after the shooting with second-degree murder in the death of 14-year-old Elijah Wilson. Last month, a judge ordered Phillips be held until his trial, agreeing with prosecutors that he remains a danger to the community.
At first, Bercaw indicated that Boonstoppel's family would not speak at Wednesday night's news conference.
But after Bercaw and Lopez took questions from reporters, Harrison's mother, Brucie Boonstoppel, came to the microphone and spoke for about three minutes in a sometimes halting voice.
"This is just senseless, and we have to do something as a community to make it better for everybody, and I plan on doing that," she said. "We can do something — I know people feel defeated about how everything's gone. This is about guns, but it's about why are these kids out there with guns?"
"There's got to be changes. And I'm talking about communities here, we can do something. We don't have to say, 'Yeah, this is how it is,' because I do not believe it. We've got to change it."