Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gathering for Slain Teen Ends in New Death, Injury; DEJA VU the Fatal Party Was a Celebration of the Life of a Teen Killed at a Similar Event

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gathering for Slain Teen Ends in New Death, Injury; DEJA VU the Fatal Party Was a Celebration of the Life of a Teen Killed at a Similar Event

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

The block party was supposed to be a remembrance of a life cut short, celebrating the birthday of a teenager slain in February.

Instead, the night erupted in gunfire.

Eight people, ages 17 to 21, were injured Saturday. Dominique Andrew Waters, 21, was killed.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office canvassed the tree-lined streets Sunday near the edge of the Lackawanna neighborhood, searching for bullet casings and talking to witnesses. The office released few details on the case, saying much of the information it had wasn't confirmed and a motive wasn't known.

According to residents, though, the shootings were senseless and random.

"They weren't shooting at my nephew. They weren't shooting at anyone," said Donell Waters, Dominique's uncle. "They were just shooting."

Moments before the firing began, 200 or more people - mainly young, mainly from the area - were dancing and enjoying themselves, several witnesses said. The occasion was a "rest in peace" block party held in honor of Ken "Bo" Townsend, who was killed about two months ago.

"It was a time to get together and mourn and celebrate his life," resident Bonita Simmons said.

The block party did have a required permit from the city, Sgt. Dan Jenson of the Sheriff's Office said, although it wasn't clear that it was abiding by restrictions on alcohol and loud noise.

Townsend was shot at a makeshift club on Lem Turner Road during a similar "rest in peace" party for a teen killed last year. No one in the neighborhood believes there is any connection between the killings.

WHAT HAPPENED

Shortly before the shooting started, Donell Waters said, the crowd was "getting hyped up," calling out Townsend's name and saying they would remember him.

As shots rang out, Samuel Byrd said, the celebration turned to chaos. "People were running, screaming," he said. "Some people were trying to get into houses. Parents were trying to go down and see if their kids were there."

Shots were fired from both ends of Bronson Street as well as in the middle of the crowd, several witnesses said.

After the first volley, some gunmen ran north on Bronson, to Webster Street, said Curtis Johnson, who was standing on his porch smoking as the events unfolded. …

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