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Police: 17-year-old found dead on path behind Westside homes

Teen shot once in head, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 17-year-old was found dead Nov. 10 along a path on the city's Westside, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

He was later identified as Walter Zelaya-Mendoza.

Officers were called about 4:30 p.m. to Melissa Court, between Ricker Road and Old Middleburg Road North.

On a path leading to a wooded area behind homes, police said, Zelaya-Mendoza was found dead, with at least one gunshot wound in his head. 

Neighbors told police they had heard gunshots earlier in the morning, sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

"(It sounded like) someone got shot or something happened," said Amber Mintz, who lives in the neighborhood.

Mintz said seeing the body while walking down the street with her friends is an image that will never leave her mind.

"It was terrifying," she said. "I started crying and I started running."

The wooded area where Zelaya-Mendoza's body was found is near Gregory West Elementary School and a basketball court where children play. News4Jax spoke with several other people who saw the body. Many of the witnesses were children.

Police said no weapons have been recovered, and they're looking for surveillance video.

Homicide detectives continue to investigate.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477). 

According to the Sheriff's Office crime map, in the last month, 13 crimes -- including burglaries, assaults, car break-ins and thefts -- have been reported within a half-mile of the area.

About the Author:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.