JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Sheriff Mike Williams announced Tuesday that two men are under arrest and a third is wanted in Saturday's shootout at a Westside strip mall that resulted in the death of 7-year-old Heidy Rivas Villanueva.
Stanley Harris III and Trevonte Phoenix are in custody and Abrion Maurice Price is wanted in connection with the girl's death.
Williams said investigators learned that 13 shots were fired as a result of what was apparently a planned robbery in the parking lot of the iHop restaurant. Phoenix and Price arranged the setup over social media under the pretense of a gun sale, Williams said.
Harris, a friend of the buyer, served as a lookout in another car as the deal went down, police said. When guns were drawn, he exchanged shots with Phoenix and Price as they ran away.
Heidy and her father were in a car with a younger child at the 103rd Street strip mall, waiting for Heidy's mother to finish grocery shopping, when bullets started flying.
A Facebook page posting updates in the case indicated that Phoenix and Price actually hid behind the family's car during the shootout. Police said a bullet entered the family's vehicle and struck Heidy in the head. She died at the hospital.
Williams said it appears the shot that struck Heidy was fired by Harris, but that will be confirmed by ballistics experts.
“I'm a father of three, but you don't have to be a father or mother of children of your own to feel the anger, the pain, the sadness and the whole range of emotions that come with this," Mayor Lenny Curry said at the news conference announcing the arrests. "But we as leaders have to keep those emotions in check and make sure that we give those who have a job to do what they need to go out and arrest these folks and prosecute these folks.”
For now, Phoenix, 17, and Price are charged with felony murder because they were in the commission of a crime when Heidy was hit. Phoenix will be prosecuted as an adult, State Attorney Melissa Nelson said. She made good on that promise Wednesday when her office filed paperwork to charge him with felony murder as an adult.
Phoenix appeared before a judge Thursday and was ordered held without bond. He will be arraigned Sept. 6.
Harris, 19, has been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, but additional charges will be added.
"I hope the little girl does get justice, I really do, because she doesn't deserve it," said Phoenix's neighbor named Shantel. "It's heartbreaking."
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Crime Stoppers received hundreds of tips, helping them identify the fugitives. Both vehicles involved were recovered and are being processed.
“We can't solve cases, especially with this pace, unless we have a heavy level of engagement with the community on those cases," Williams said. "We had that in this case, and it enabled us to be able to take that information and run with it.”
Williams said police activity in a neighborhood off 103rd Street on Monday night was part of the search for Price. A woman who lives in the apartment complex where Price was known to live said the SWAT team was there Tuesday afternoon, but left without finding him.
“Nobody should be helping Price," Williams said. "If we find out through the investigation that you have harbored him, you will be arrested and charged."
WANTED in the shooting death of 7-year-old Heydi Rivas Villanueva.
We will not stop until we find you. If you let him sleep at your house, feed him, give money, or borrow your car you are enabling a fugitive.
JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org or 911.
Armed and Dangerous. pic.twitter.com/qk0hbLWeQC — Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) August 14, 2018
Price, 21, appears to have the longest criminal history of the three, with two separate convictions in 2015 on drug charges and resisting an officer. In 2014, he was charged and convicted of possession of a weapon by a delinquent.
Crime Stoppers is offering a separate $5,000 reward for information leading to Price's arrest. Tipsters can remain anonymous if they call 1-866-845-TIPS.
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