JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 7-year-old boy shot and killed Sunday night was playing in a Durkeeville front yard when someone in an SUV stopped and opened fire. According to Jacksonville's sheriff, several adults -- some of them with criminal histories who were drinking and smoking marijuana -- returned gunfire.
Police identified the boy as Tashawn Gallon, who died at the hospital. Tashawn's aunt told News4Jax he was a first-grader at S.P. Livingston Elementary School.
Williams said 23-year-old Dominique Holcomb, who was also shot, fled the scene before police arrived, but made his way to UF Health Jacksonville. He was treated and released, but later charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He also had outstanding arrest warrants for aggravated assault and domestic battery.
Officers responded to the shooting on Mount Herman Street near Third Street around 9:13 p.m. Sunday after both a ShotSpotter indication of gunfire and a 911 call from the home. Detectives said it's believed the gunfire came from a small, dark-colored SUV, possibly a gray Toyota. Williams said one of the witnesses reported that at least one of the adults in the yard grabbed a gun to return fire.
Williams said Monday that, based on evidence at the scene, multiple people fired shots with Tashawn in the middle of the gunfire.
Officers don't believe the child was the intended target in the drive-by shooting. Williams said that among the people in the yard at the time were multiple people with felony convictions, and at least one of them has an active gang affiliation.
Williams said Holcomb was among those who witnessed the shooting but are not cooperating with the investigation.
"There's someone on the street today that's responsible for the shooting death of a 7-year-old little boy, and I promise you that we will move heaven and Earth and kick in a few doors to bring that person to justice," Williams said.
Police said there were several more people in the house at the time of the shooting, but none of them were hit by the gunfire. Williams said Tashawn was the nephew of the homeowner.
Chakakhan Anderson, a neighbor, described Tashawn as a smart, energetic child who was playing with her 5-year-old son just hours before the shooting.
"He’s a kid. He’s a child. Just didn’t get a chance," Anderson said. "I actually hugged my son’s goddaddy, and we’re, like, hugging each other and crying. I’ve never seen my son’s goddaddy cry and it’s definitely a shock."
Belinda Simmons, a close family friend, said she called Tashawn her nephew even though they aren't related by blood. She said it's heartbreaking that his life was taken so soon.
“That’s the sad part about it -- when I learned that it was a drive-by. We see and read about them all the time and don't know the people. That's what really got me because by me knowing him -- from a baby (to a) beautiful kid -- it really hurt me that something like this could happen to him," Simmons said. "I just pray that they find the ones that did this and I'm sure, when they do find the ones that did it, they will be take care of."
Simmons said she'll miss the loving and charming boy, known by his loved ones as "boss man," who would always stop by her house.
"He loved that name," she said. "He was 7, but he had a mind of a 20-year-old. That's just how he was admired. Everybody loved him."
Family members said Tashawn's grandmother, Jennifer Nelson, was shot and killed nearly one year ago while sitting in her car outside Kelly's Place bar in New Town. According to News4Jax records, that crime remains unsolved.
"We need their cooperation to bring justice to this case," Williams said, adding that anyone who tries to hide evidence or intentionally gives false information to police could face prosecution.
The CrimeStoppers reward for information leading to an arrest in this case was increased to $10,000. Callers do not need to give their name to be eligible for the reward.
"Anybody that knows something, we beg you to come forward so justice can be served," said Mayor Lenny Curry, who stood at Williams' side at Monday's news conference.
According to detectives, Tashawn was the fifth child shot in the last two weeks and the first shooting death of a child this year. Two of the previous incidents were also drive-by shootings. Police have not indicated that they have identified gunmen in any of the shootings.
"I know for a fact that the people in these communities where these have happened are outraged as well, as we are, and they should be," JSO Assistant Chief Scott Dingee said. "When you have children who can't play in their front yards, it's unbelievable to me."
Duval County Public Schools said grief counselors will be at S.P. Livingston Elementary School on Tuesday morning to help students and faculty cope with Tashawn's death.
Watch Dingee's entire media briefing from the scene of shooting:
WATCH LIVE: Jacksonville police give update on deadly child shooting. WHAT WE KNOW --> http://bit.ly/2Gr4TvwPosted by WJXT4 The Local Station / News4JAX on Sunday, February 18, 2018