15-year-old arrested in beach-lot shooting

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By Rachel Brown Hackney, SarasotaNewsLeader.com

A 15-year-old North Port resident was arrested following a shooting just after 11:30 p.m. on May 7 in the Siesta Public Beach parking lot, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The shooter was taken into custody just after 3 a.m. on May 8 at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Cattleridge Boulevard in Sarasota, the official report said. A full-time county resident, he was listed in the report as a student at North Port High School.

The Siesta Sand’s policy is to not name the accused when he or she is a minor.

Following the shooting, the victim “was assisted into an unknown vehicle with the help of [a] friend and several other people,” the report said. Deputies later were alerted that the victim had been transported to Fire Station 13, which is operating out of temporary quarters in a commercial building just south of the beach park.

The victim suffered gunshot wounds to his right arm and the right side of his buttocks, the report noted. He was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital “for further medical care,” the report added.

The victim was not identified; the report cited Marsy’s Law, which allows victims of crimes to keep their names confidential.

The Sheriff’s Office initially charged the shooter with aggravated battery with use of a deadly weapon, a 9mm Glock. However, Community Affairs Director Kaitlyn R. Perez said on May 13 that the victim had signed a waiver of prosecution. That means no charges are pending against him, she added, and the State Attorney’s Office for the 12th Judicial District will not be reviewing the case, either.

At the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on May 8, the official report said, the boy “invoked his rights and did not wish to answer any questions.”

An officer then contacted his mother. After she arrived, the report added, she “attempted to speak to her son about the incident; during their conversation he never denied his involvement in the shooting.”

The boy was released into the custody of his 34-year-old mother, the report said.

On the night of May 7, the report explained, deputies already were at the beach park, investigating a call about a noise disturbance. They heard multiple gunshots from the other side of the parking lot, the report added, and several bystanders told one deputy that the suspect had been seen running northbound, toward 1001 Beach Road, “with a gun in his hand.”

The latter address is the location of Our House at the Beach by Tropical Sands Accommodations, which is across from the beach park.

During a formal interview at the hospital, the report said, the victim told an officer that “he was hanging out at Siesta Key near the main entrance [to the beach park],” on the sidewalk, when he was shot. The victim indicated that he did not know the assailant, the report said.

A witness told an officer that she saw the shooting as she was standing on her fifth-floor balcony. Moments before the boy allegedly fired the gun she had seen him talking to the victim and a friend of the victim “at the corner entrance” to the parking lot, off Beach Road.

As the victim and his friend were walking away, toward the south, the witness added, the suspect pulled out a handgun “and shot several rounds towards the victim and his friend.”

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