73.9 F
Winter Haven
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Latest Posts

Grand Jury Indicts One Adult and Two Teens for First Degree Murder in January 30th Shooting

Grand Jury indicts one adult and two teens for first degree murder

The Polk County Grand Jury indicted three suspects yesterday, April 7, 2022, in connection with a shooting that occurred in the area of Martin Luther King Blvd., NE and 11th Street, Winter Haven on January 30, 2022.

The three suspects are:

Antonio Bernard Lewis, Jr., 21, Winter Haven

Charges: First degree murder (782.04.01C, CF), Attempted first degree murder (782.04.01, LF), Attempted second degree murder (782.04.02, F) (2 counts), Shooting into or throwing deadly missile into a vehicle (790.19, F), Discharging a firearm from a vehicle (790.15.01, F).

Jermaine Leonard Hawthorne, 16, Winter Haven

Charges: First degree murder (782.04.01C, CF), Attempted first degree murder (782.04.01, LF), Attempted second degree murder (782.04.02, F) (2 counts), Shooting into or throwing deadly missile into a vehicle (790.19, F), Discharging a firearm from a vehicle (790.15.01, F), Tampering with physical evidence (918.13, F).

Mecheal Jean-Charles, 17, Winter Haven

Charges: First degree murder (782.04.01C, CF), Attempted first degree murder (782.04.01, LF), Attempted felony murder (782.051, F), Attempted second degree murder (782.04.02, F), Tampering with physical evidence (918.13, F).

On Sunday, January 30, 2022, 1:13 a.m., Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Winter Haven Police responded to multiple reports of a shooting in the area Martin Luther King (MLK) Blvd NE and 11th St., Winter Haven. Upon arrival in the area, Winter Haven officers located a grey Toyota Camry, with multiple apparent bullet strikes stopped on the south shoulder of MLK Blvd. Further investigation revealed three occupants of the vehicle with multiple apparent gunshot wounds and a fourth person who appeared to flee from the area of the vehicle on foot. A perimeter was established and a search of the area conductedthe fourth occupant of the victim’s vehicle was not found initially, but was identified later by investigating deputies.

The occupant of the driver’s seat, a 26-year-old Bartow man, was found to have multiple apparent gunshot wounds. The left rear passenger, a 17-year-old Bartow teen, had multiple apparent gunshot wounds. The right front passenger, a 20-year-old Winter Haven man had multiple apparent gunshot woundshe was pronounced deceased at the scene by Polk County EMS at approximately 1:20 a.m. The deceased man was found to have an AR15 style rifle slung across his body and a Glock pistol in his waist band upon the arrival of law enforcement. The person who fled the vehicle was later identifieda 17-year-old Bartow teen who had been shot twice.

All involved who were injured by gunfire (except the man who was killed) were treated and later discharged from area hospitals.

Detectives determined, based on witness and victim interviews, that two vehicles were traveling westbound on MLK Blvd NE, Winter Haven, FL. A dark blue four door sedan, later identified as a Lexus, was traveling westbound behind the Toyota Camry. The Lexus entered the on-coming (eastbound travel lane) and paralleled the silver Camry at which time there appeared to be muzzle flashes and multiple gunshots coming from the Lexus. The Lexus then accelerated past the Camry, briefly losing control and leaving the roadway. After traveling along the grass shoulder, the driver of the Lexus regained control and continued westbound as the Camry crossed the center line and coasted to a stop along the south shoulder of the roadway.

Both vehicles were at the Cypress Lanes Bowling Alley at 2010 Dundee Rd. in Winter Haven, prior to the shooting.
While detectives were investigating the shooting, they were advised that a dark blue four door sedan (the suspect vehicle) arrived at the emergency department entrance of Winter Haven Hospital (approximately two miles from the scene) at around 1:16 a.m. The occupants of the vehicle dropped off a black man, later identified as 21-year-old Antonio Lewis, with a gunshot wound to the chest area. The vehicle rapidly fled the hospital without providing any information to hospital staff.

According to hospital surveillance video, two passengers in the vehicle were observed assisting Lewis out of the vehicle and through the door of the hospital. The two ran back to the vehicle and fled. On video, dirt and clumps of grass were visible falling from the vehicle undercarriage. In an initial interview with law enforcement, Antonio Lewis admitted to being at the Cypress Lanes Bowling alley earlier in the night when some type of altercation occurred. Lewis was later transported to another hospital and was ultimately discharged into law enforcement custody.

Through further interviews detectives determined that the shooting was gang related and there was an exchange of gunfire between the two vehicles (one shooter from the Camry).
On February 2nd, detectives located a dark blue Lexus sedan with gunshot holes in the passenger side near The Rock of Winter Haven Church, Winter Haven. Numerous spent shell casings were located inside the vehicle. It was learned that the vehicle was reported stolen out of Hillsborough County. A Lexus key fob in Lewis’ possession at the hospital was confirmed to match the stolen Lexus.

Speaking with people in the area of the Church led to the identification of Jermaine Hawthorne. Detectives later recovered distinctive clothing worn by Hawthorne the night of the shooting from his residence.

Further investigation led to the identification of Mecheal Jean-Charles being the third person in the Lexus the night of the Shooting. Jean-Charles was identified as the driver.

Video evidence at the Cypress Lanes bowling alley shows the stolen Lexus in the parking lot prior to the shooting and immediately following the Toyota Camry as it left. It followed the Camry until the shooting.

“We are not putting up with this gang violence in Polk County. These three will be held accountable for murdering a man and shooting the other victims. The investigation is ongoing, so if there is anyone out there who can help us with more information, please call Heartland Crime Stoppers to receive cash rewards.” -Grady Judd, Sheriff

author avatar
Staff Reporter

Latest Posts

- Advertisement -

Don't Miss

- Advertisement -