Man arrested in December murder of Marine reservist

'I forgive, but I don't forget,' says mother of 22-year-old Quinton Gray

By Ethan Calloway - Anchor/reporter, News4Jax.com Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The man who crashed into a palm tree at an Arlington apartment complex after he was shot several times while driving Dec. 30 has died, and police have arrested the man accused in the shooting.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said on Monday that Quinton Gray, 22, died after being shot while driving at the Eagle Pointe Apartments on Holly Bell Drive. His family said Gray was in the Marine Corp Reserves. 

Police said Charles Smith III, 21, shot between eight and 15 rounds at Gray’s car. Gray was struck at least once in the head. He was taken UF Health Jacksonville, where he died from his injuries.

According to police, Cedric Moss and Gray pulled into a convenience store around the same time as Smith. When Smith was leaving the store, he got into a stare-down with Gray and Moss for unknown reasons and words were exchanged, police said, but both parties left without incident.

As Gray drove off, he passed Smith, who then shot into the car, striking Gray and Moss, police said. Gray was trying to drive away after being shot, but crashed his car into another car and then a tree, investigators said.

IMAGES: Family photos of Quinton Gray

Moss suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting. Gray was hospitalized and died last Thursday.

Police said it appears that Smith did not know or have any prior contact with Gray or Moss.

Less than two weeks after the shooting, the Sheriff's Office announced that Smith was arrested Saturday on charges of murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

Gray's mother, Forliesa Gray, said that while the arrest was a huge relief, she's still trying to adjust to life without her son, who she described as an upstanding young man.

"Every now and then, I hear his voice, you know, because it's just so hard to believe," Forliesa Gray said. "I still cry a lot of nights. I can't sleep. I still cry because I miss him so much."

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Charles Smith

Forliesa Gray said she has no sympathy for the man accused of taking her son's life. 

"I just want to know why you shot my son. What was the reason? I know you didn't know him because everybody he knew, I know. So why did you shoot my son? If he said something to you, you could've just walked away, you know? You don't have to gun down my son like he was some dog in the street. And then you go running when the police are looking for you. That's a coward," she said. "I forgive, but I won't forget. When I walked in there New Year's Eve, my son was on life-support, brain-dead. He was 22 years old. I don't have any grandchildren from my son or nothing. So yes, I want the death penalty. I'd be alright with it."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Gray's family with his funeral expenses. After his service, Forliesa Gray said she plans to move away from Jacksonville because she no longer feels safe in the city. 

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