Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Neighbors on Edge in Wake of Pair of Slayings Police Suspect Drug Involvement; Residents Fret Their Vulnerability

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Neighbors on Edge in Wake of Pair of Slayings Police Suspect Drug Involvement; Residents Fret Their Vulnerability

Article excerpt

Byline: Dana Treen, Times-Union staff writer

A pair of brazen slayings have left Ray Rubio and Willie Jennings unsettled, even afraid, in Jacksonville neighborhoods that lie miles apart.

The killing of a 22-year-old man in Springfield on Aug. 13 and the execution-style slaying of the suspected killer's father days later in Arlington worry the men and confound police. Others in the neighborhoods simply don't want to talk about it.

"Nobody feels OK about this," said Rubio, 48, who lives with his wife and 3-year-old son on the Arlington street where 39-year-old Charles Quaintance Jr. was killed getting out of a car next door.

"We were absolutely vulnerable that night," Rubio said.

Quaintance was holding a 3-year-old in his arms when he was gunned down. It was days after police issued a warrant for the arrest of Quaintance's son in the killing of Kenyatte Sykes, a 22-year-old who was riding a bicycle when he was shot and run over then hauled to a backyard grave blocks away. All three have had drug-related convictions or brushes with the law.

"It's evil," said Jennings, pushing his lawn mower along the street past a makeshift memorial to Sykes in Springfield. "People are scared. They lock their doors at night."

Police, who are characterizing the slayings as drug-related, said retaliations are not uncommon in cases of drug debts and drug deals gone bad. People may get shot or get ripped off in a home invasion, but the blatant retaliation slaying like the shooting of the older Quaintance for what his son is accused of is different, police Assistant Chief David Sembach Jr. said.

"Most of the time you don't know it's back-and-forth," Sembach said. "It's just that people don't die, people don't go around bragging about it. The game that they are playing is a dangerous game."

Police think the viciousness is limited to two factions.

But that doesn't keep people from fearing for their own safety and making them reluctant to come forward, even anonymously, with leads they may have, Sembach said.

"It's very difficult, especially when they are in fear of their lives," he said. …

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