POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Two 16-year old boys are facing first-degree murder charges for the shooting death of a teenager in a Bartow park this week.
“Sixteen and seventeen year old children, that’s what they are, children,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “What they did is not a juvenile crime. It’s an adult crime. It’s cold-blooded first degree murder.”
According to the sheriff, Jevon Berrien Jr. and Margus Johnson planned to rob Taigur Taguri, 17, when he arrived at a park in the Gordon Heights neighborhood to sell them marijuana Monday night.
“Our victim saw a firearm and he said ‘No, bro’ or ‘Wait, bro’ and as he put the car in gear and tried to leave, that’s when he was shot,” said Sheriff Judd.
Taguri died. A female passenger was not hurt.
Detectives utilized tips from the public and social media searches to link Taguri to Berrien.
They sent shell casings found on scene for analysis.
They matched a handgun found in Berrien’s room, according to the sheriff’s office.
“When you have guns and you possess guns and you like guns, you’re responsible for them. Someway, somehow this 16-year old got a handgun,” said Sheriff Judd.
Deputies are searching for at least two more suspects.
“It makes me completely angry that we’ve got kids killing kids,” said Sheriff Judd.
Berrien and Johnson claimed to be members of a Bartow-based gang.
The sheriff says he is concerned about a recent uptick involving gang-related shootings and young people in Polk County.
“It’s really gone from zero for the most part to like two or three weeks in a row,” said Sheriff Judd. “We’re going to be hanging all over these gangs like a cheap JCPenney suit.”
Berrien’s father, Jevon Berrien, was also arrested on drug and firearm charges.