3 accused of shooting Palatka man in back

Booking photos of Charlene Lawton (from left), Derrion Thomas and Cotrelle Armstrong.
Booking photos of Charlene Lawton (from left), Derrion Thomas and Cotrelle Armstrong.

PALATKA, Fla. – Three Palatka residents have been charged with attempted murder and a fourth is being sought after a 39-year-old man was shot Sunday afternoon, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

Wesley Roberts III was flown to UF Shands in Gainesville after being shot in the back, deputies said. He was treated and released.

Charlene Lawton, 26, Derrion Thomas, 21, and Cotrelle Armstrong, 24, have been charged with shooting Roberts near Silver Lake Drive and Horsemans Club Road.

Armstrong has also been charged with stealing Roberts’ car, as well as an escape charge.

A fourth suspect, 23-year-old Timothy Thomas is still being sought, deputies said.

An investigation by Major Crimes Detective Lynn Nicely determined that Lawton had been attempting to contact Roberts, for some unknown reason, and Roberts had been avoiding her.

Roberts was driving to Horsemans Club Road on Sunday to pick up his son and was passed by a car with Lawton and some other people in it.

Roberts reported that when he walked out of his son’s mother’s house he noticed that his car was missing.

He believed Lawton took it and called her on the phone before walking down Horsemans Club Road. Roberts said that Lawton drove back up in Roberts' car and that he jumped in the driver’s seat.

Roberts told Nicely that at that point a second car, occupied by Derrion Thomas, Armstrong and Timothy Thomas pulled up behind him and Lawton. Roberts reportedly saw Timothy Thomas get out of the car with a handgun and attempt to rob him.

Roberts said he immediately put his car in gear and sped off, but one gunshot was fired by the robbers, hitting Roberts in the back. He was able to drive to Peniel Road and State Road 19, where he put Lawton out of the car. He then headed toward Palatka and was stopped at Silver Lake Drive and S.R. 19 by Deputy Kagen Butts.

Roberts was flown to UF Shands in Gainesville where he was treated for the gunshot wound and then released.

K-9 Deputy Nicholas Vieira and Deputy Brandee Smith found Lawton at a residence on North Beech Street and took her into custody. Armstrong and Derrion Thomas were spotted on Old Jacksonville Highway and were also taken into custody. Vieira, using his K-9 partner “Zeke,” found two handguns hidden in tall grass at Beech Street and Old Jacksonville Highway.

All of the captured suspects were interviewed at the Criminal Investigation Division. Nicely determined that the four suspects had confronted Roberts with the intention of robbing him. The three suspects in custody were then placed under arrest. Timothy Thomas is still being sought, deputies said.

Armstrong, while handcuffed and being escorted to the booking desk, broke free from the deputies and ran across the Sheriff’s Office parking lot in an attempt to escape. But it was shift change at the jail and several corrections deputies were in the parking lot. Armstrong was taken back into custody in short order, deputies said.

All three suspects are being held in the Putnam County Jail without benefit of bond.