JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 19-year-old man has been charged in the shooting death of an 18-year-old who was killed Saturday in a triple shooting on Jacksonville's Westside that also left a 16-year-old girl and a 9-year-old girl injured, police said.
Deontrae Thomas was identified by police as the shooter and was arrested about 8:30 p.m. Sunday near Butler Boulevard and Belfort Road, Lt. Steve Gallaher said.
According to the arrest warrant, the wounded 16-year-old girl told police she knew who Thomas was because they were Facebook friends and she knew he was the boyfriend of an acquaintance.
Gallaher said Thomas, an Orange Park High School student, shattered a glass door of the North Raw Hyde Trail home to get into the house and then fired multiple shots, hitting Zion Brown and the two girls. The girls survived but Brown died at the hospital.
Thomas is charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder.
The 16-year-old also told police Brown named Thomas as the shooter as he lay dying. She told News4Jax on Monday that doctors were able to remove a bullet from her foot, but another bullet is still lodged in her ankle.
"It's scary. That's not a situation for anyone to be in. It's traumatizing, seeing all that blood. You don't know what to do, so you panic," said the teenager, who News4Jax has chosen not to identify for safety reasons.
The teen explained how the gunman got into their home, where there were small children inside. She said she and her family were woken up about 1:30 a.m. Saturday when a brick came crashing through a sliding glass door in the back of the house.
The 16-year-old said she called 911, but before officers could arrive, the gunman walked through the broken glass door into the kitchen and then entered the living room, where the victims had gathered.
Gallaher said Brown was the only adult in the home with the girls and three other children, ages 6, 9 and 17, when Thomas opened fire.
Police said it's possible other people were involved in the shooting. Because the motive remains unclear, Brown's family told News4Jax they are still fearful for their lives, despite the arrest, and they want to leave Jacksonville.
Thomas has three prior arrests in Clay County, including a drug possession charge in February, a felony drug possession charge in 2016 and six counts of burglary in 2015, including one in which a gun was stolen. He pleaded guilty to the 2015 charges and served time in juvenile detention.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or the homicide division at 904-630-2172. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward, call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.