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A woman friend in north Georgia told me yesterday that she had just heard about a homeless man in Jacksonville being murdered by a 12-year-old boy. I went online and found:
The Florida Times-Union
12-year-old arrested in ‘horrible, spontaneous’ killing of homeless Jacksonville man
Posted: July 31, 2014 – 11:20am | Updated: July 31, 2014 – 7:38pm
By Dana Treen & Andrew Pantazi
People who recognized the 12-year-old Jacksonville boy accused of randomly killing a homeless man June 28 said he had been a troublemaker at the strip plaza where the body was found with a gunshot to the head.
Workers at one shop said Sharron Sherman Townsend and others around his age hung out at the plaza on 103rd Street at Ricker Road, sometimes swearing and bothering customers.
They would prowl up and down the sidewalk in the evenings, said Dawn Akers, who works at Cali Nails.
“I won’t be around here at night,” she said Thursday.
Akers, who recognized Townsend from a mug shot with “juvenile ” emblazoned across the top, sasid he once held the door of the shop open and asked a girl sitting there for her Facebook information and phone number.
Related: Arrest of 12-year-old brings issue of trying children as adults back to forefront, could put Corey back in spotlight
Akers said the girl didn’t know Townsend.
“He was using the F-word,” Akers said. “Finally we told him to close the door.”
Police said Townsend probably didn’t know 54-year-old Thomas Zona Trent, who used a walker and was among the homeless who stuck around the strip of shops and the abandoned businesses next door.
“They may have seen each other around, but they didn’t have a relationship,” said Assistant Chief Chris Butler of the Sheriff’s Office. “To me it just seems somebody just went by and shot the individual.”
Trent used to hang out at a nearby sandwich shop in the hope of handouts, Akers said.
“He didn’t bother nobody,” she said.
Butler said a 16-year-old friend of Townsend’s who was already jailed as a juvenile in an armed robbery and motor vehicle theft offered police information that led to the 12-year-old’s arrest Thursday.
Townsend was charged with murder. No charges are expected on the 16-year-old, Butler said.
“We do not believe that he was involved in the incident,” he said.
Police have not recovered a murder weapon.
“To me the best way to describe it is a horrible, spontaneous event,” Butler said. “I can’t give you an explanation as to why it happened.”
Video from two stores taken about 2:25 a.m. that day show two youths on the sidewalk in front of the buildings then behind them about six minutes later, running with shirts covering their heads, Townsend’s arrest report said. The 16-year-old said the video is of him and Townsend and that the 12-year-old fired the single shot. Trent’s body was found in a parking lot.
Townsend, whose address was listed on Portsmouth Avenue in the Sherwood Forest area of Jacksonville, has a prior burglary arrest. Neighbors there said he and his family had only lived in that neighborhood for two or three months.
One said two teenage boys and three adults lived in the yellow cinder-block house. Once, she heard the younger teen in an argument with others in the house but mostly they kept to themselves.
Robert Rollins and Lonnie Battle have lived side by side across the street for years.
“They haven’t been here long enough to know them,” Rollins said.
Both men said the case is a reminder of the recent shooting deaths of a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old in the city.
“Now you are talking about a 12-year-old,” Battle said. “If he is convicted, he’s gone.”
No one answered the door there late Thursday morning.
The clutch of homeless men who loiter around the Westside strip center knew Townsend and his friends were from the neighborhood, Akers said.
At a cluster of run-down single-story apartments around the corner on Ricker Road, young men sitting together mostly rose and walked off when asked if they recognized Townsend’s name.
One said he remembered Townsend from the back of the complex.
Later, a girl who looked at the mug shot simply said she had to go, and walked away.
The day before he died, Trent visited his brother and sister. He’d just been released from St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside, his sister recalled Thursday. He stopped by to pick up bank statements and bills sent to the home.
He relied on a walker and had suffered from hepatitis C, spinal problems and alcoholism.
Dawn McNabb said her brother lived on his own after his parents died months apart in the early 1990s. He stayed in a tent in the yard where she and brother Peter Trent lived, but that only lasted a few months. He preferred to retreat to the woods.
As teenagers, McNabb said her brother did his best to protect his two other brothers from an abusive stepfather.
She said he was kind and intelligent, latching on to newspapers and wanting to talk for hours about the news. As an adult, he made and sold paper roses on the street.
She doesn’t know what he was doing the night he was killed but said she can’t believe her brother would have started any problems.
As for Townsend, McNabb said he knew better.
“I can’t really say what I feel,” she said, “but I feel sorry for his parents. He’s really destroyed their lives, too. They have to suffer, too.”
After Trent died, family members held a memorial service. They refused to toast with alcohol, instead raising glasses filled with milk.
At least, McNabb said, he no longer has to “live with all those nightmares.”
I had a homeless friend named Gypsy. Had. Several years ago, he was bludgeoned to death in his sleep at his US 1 roadside camp above Stock Island. Far as I know, the crime remains unsolved.
The other day, a boat person I’d only just met at Key West Bight told me of a KW police officer being a cool dude, going out of his way to be a good Samaritan to this boat person. I said I’d heard many times from homeless people that the same officer hates homeless people and goes out of his way to make homeless people miserable. The boat person said that is true, too.
The boat person said the city views all boat people as homeless people; doesn’t let them vote in city elections, if they live on boats. I said, boat people must not be part of Key West’s One Human Family.
I said that I have a friend who lives on a boat in dry dock in Key West, has done so for a while. She told me that she had voted in city elections, but last year she was told she could not vote because she lived on a boat.
Whereas, I said, I was told by the Supervisor of Elections Office early this year that homeless people can register to vote in Key West. Back when I was homeless, I voted at the Martin Luther King Center in Bahama Village.
I wonder if Key West homeless people who do not live on boats also will be denied the right to vote in Key West?
I wonder where Key West gets off saying people who live on boats are homeless? I suppose the same place they get off saying people who live in vehicles are homeless. I guess they clean forgot Jesus was homeless? And that he said as people do unto the least of people, they do also to him?
I’m hearing mayor candidate Margaret Romero
tell candidate forum audiences how she thinks the city should be dealing severely with homeless people.
Charles Eimers died under Key West police officers last Thanksgiving Day, after they roughed him up, because they thought he was homeless.
Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com – view of Charles Eimers’ last moments alive.
Margaret Romero said during a radio interview and at a candidate forum that the police didn’t do anything wrong; according to the Medical Examiner’s report, Eimers died of natural causes.
I’m telling candidate forum audiences this isn’t Auschwitz – yet. For now, homeless people still have the same US Constitutional rights to be on public streets and sidewalks, in public parks, on public beaches, in public shopping centers and at other public places as the rest of us have.
There is a reason I say it in that way, and the reason is the hatred for homeless people I am hearing from people who ought to know better, and the hatred for homeless people I am seeing in Citizen’s Voice – www.keysnews.com.
I heard hatred for homeless people expressed during Friends of Higgs Beach Committee meetings co-hosted by County Commissioner Heather Carruthers and City Commissioner Teri Johnston in late 2008 and early 2009.
Heather didn’t stop the hate talk, and when I bridled, said it was out of line, Teri tried to get the hate talk toned down. The hate talk continued, and finally I told the haters they reminded of Nazi Germany. They took offense. I kept telling them they reminded me of Nazi Germany until I resigned from the committee; I said I was going to run for mayor and now had a conflict of interest. Teri said she agreed that I probably now did have a conflict of interest, and it was right for me to resign.
The entire reason for the Friends of Higgs Beach Committee and Monroe County, which owns Higgs Beach, and the Tourist Development Council spending a lot of money redesigning Higgs Beach, is to make it a lot harder, if not impossible, for homeless people to use the kiosks to the east of the public bathroom,
and the smaller kiosks across the street near where the dog park now is.
But for homeless people, the Higgs Beach renovation, still mostly in the planning stage, would not have happened. But for getting rid of homeless people, the second, much smaller, children’s playground in the kiosks, fenced and exclusive for adults with children,
would not have been built. That new, smaller playground receives considerably less use today than the old playground across the street. I can’t find a photo of the older, larger playground.
If Key West plows ahead and builds the new mega park on Truman Waterfront,
I wonder if there will be park benches? I wonder, because the city officials removed nearly every public bench in the city to prevent homeless people from sitting on them. City bus stops are the main places remaining where there are benches, and even those benches city officials tried to remove, but then backed off because of hues and cries that elders, disabled people, workers, students, tourists and other people ride city buses and need a place to sit when waiting on their bus to arrive.
What the city needs to do with Truman Waterfront is turn it over to the Housing Authority to build as many affordable rental units out there as possible – 500, 600 apartments. That’s the best way for Key West to take care of its workforce and people who recently went homeless, none of whom can afford Key West’s high market rate rents. Instead, the city’s crusades to put its homeless in a shelter at night, and meanwhile do all possible to rough them up and cause them want to go to the mainland.
Several months ago, Teri Johnston asked me to have lunch with her and let’s us talk about Key West’s homeless issues. We had lunch and it was a good conversation. Teri is the only city official who sought my input for Key West’s homeless issues. What that tells me is Teri is the only city official who wants to hear what someone who actually knows that very rough terrain has to say.
Such are examples of what I see is a predominant sentiment – hatred – toward homeless people in a city which professes to embrace One Human Family as its official philosophy. I wager not one homeless person in Key West views him/herself as being part of that alleged one human family. I also wager every homeless person in Key West views him/herself as part of God’s One Human Family.
A different kind of one human family facade is addressed in today’s Friday edition of Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com. Here’s the blue paper’s teaser, click on either link to open the article.
It’s 6:27 p.m. — Sheila Carey and her two children are riding a rented limo, a special treat to celebrate their outstanding report cards. They’ve just dropped off their friend, eleven-year-old Shanaya Winn, who is now home alone taking a shower. A few minutes later, at 6:29 p.m. — the limo is stopped at gunpoint and surrounded by KWPD officers. The mother is thrown to the sidewalk and handcuffed. Her six-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter are seized by the officers, guns pointed at their faces. […full article]
Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper] encourages spirited, open debate in comments on our stories. We do ask that you refrain from profanity, personal attacks and remarks that are off point. Please join the conversation!
5 COMMENTS ON “POLICE POINT GUN AT SIX-YEAR-OLD BOY — AND MORE…”
KEYS OBSERVER AUGUST 1, 2014 AT 8:06 AM
Unconscionable behavior on the part of the Key West Police. They’ve been watching too many crime shows on TV. For shame!
SKD AUGUST 1, 2014 AT 8:26 AM
WTF??? Wonder how much more of this behavior by the KWTD will be tolerated. Can you imagine how many more incidents are out there that the people are terrified to talk about??? Mayor Cates and Donie Lee allow this to go on. Is Key West under martial law? Please, all get out and vote, Key West needs a new Mayor to start with. Look at what happened to Charles Eimers and Matt Murphy. Mayor Cates turns a blind eye to everything.
KCCWOODWORKS AUGUST 1, 2014 AT 8:46 AM
Does this really surprise anyone? KWPD is apparently the place for “wannabe’s” that most likely couldn’t get hired by a real police department. Most likely they had no homeless to kill, so they decided to practice their “harrassment techniques” on some one in Bahama Village.
SLOAN BASHINSKY AUGUST 1, 2014 AT 9:07 AM
Terrifying presentation. The last paragraph of your article leaves me wondering if the raid was about a suspected gun, or about drugs? I, too, wonder if such a raid would have occurred in a white home?
Back in 2003, Celebrate, I think it was, although perhaps it was another small KW newspaper, but not the blue paper, asked the mayor candidates what they felt needed to be done re Bahama Village? Back then, tension between city police and Bahama Village residents was very high. I replied that only KW police officers approved by Bahama Village elders should be allowed into Bahama Village. The newspaper reported what I said and that I was the only candidate who answered the question; the other five candidates said they didn’t have any thoughts, or didn’t want to touch it. Incumbent mayor Jimmy Weekley won that election,
JOHN DOE AUGUST 1, 2014 AT 9:11 AM
Horribly unprofessional. If I could suggest one thing, TRAINING! When one of these yahoo baby cops that have no idea what they are doing and have no people skills gets hurt or sued it will be the fault of the bosses that continue to let this go on. If all stems from no accountability at the top.
SLOAN BASHINSKY AUGUST 1, 2014 AT 9:40 AM
KWPD has yahoo cops who have been on the force a good while. Some of them got on top of Charles Eimers.
This article doesn’t read like it’s about poorly-trained cops. It reads like its about cops gone berserk, a law unto themselves. In this case and in another case.
I wonder what the blue paper had to do to get this far into the case? Did the KWPD investigate itself in this case. Was Police Chief Donnie Lee interviewed by the blue paper about this case?
PELICAN AUGUST 1, 2014 AT 10:03 AM
Congratulations once again to the Blue Paper for its investigative reporting. Serpico would be proud.
In yet another one human facade arena,
Jerry Weinstock, M.D. psychiatry, wrote to me yesterday:
There exists a lot of discussion at the
college swimming pool. More than one person
is of the opinion that Romero evades direct
answers to questions —no one really knows where
she stands, for example: one gentleman who I would
consider of above average intellect asked her –what her
stand was on these ear splitting motorcycles that disrupt
our citizens, especially in old town, to a great-degree. I and he
consider those non-factory pipes a health hazard. Her reply
a total evasion –“I welcome input from people” . I said Sloan
will tell you precisely where he stands –you can trust him–
I personally endorse him… sincerely, Jerry
Hi, Jerry –
At city commission meetings a few months back, during the conversation/commotion about amending the city’s noise ordinance, perhaps much to do about nothing as far as the enforcement of the new noise ordinance goes, there was some talk about loud motorcycles but I didn’t hear any city commissioners or the mayor press doing anything about loud bikes. At a couple of those commission meetings, I suggested giving code enforcement officers and city police the power (and the orders) to apprehend loud motorcycles, take the driver off the bike, call a towing service, have the bike hauled to the towing service’s parking/storage area, give the biker the address of said parking/storage area and its phone number, and bid the biker adieu and a nice and quieter visit in Key West.
My sense was, some citizens in the audience thought that was a splendid approach, I had called it “redneck justice” – no arrest, no ticket, no fine, no lawyer, no pubic defender, no prosecutor, no judge, no courtroom, no fuss, no muss. Imagine how long word of that kind of noise suppression would take to get out on the biker grapevine – about an hour, BREAKER, BREAKER!!! 2 or 3 more bikers getting same treatment would have a miraculous reduction in open pipes symphonies on Duval Street and elsewhere on Key West. Perhaps some enterprising person would open a business on Stock Island renting legal motorcycle mufflers to bikers wanting to enter Key West on bikes not flying exactly under the redneck radar, so to speak.
I told the mayor and commissioners to do much the same procedure on too-loud bars and joints. Code enforcement and/or police officers simply go into the ear-drum-bursting establishment and shut it down for the rest of the day and night, dismiss all the customers and employees and musicians, in lieu or the manager and musicians being hauled themselves up to the Stock Island Hokey Pokey for the evening, or longer. Let the establishment reopen the next day. If it repeat offends, same procedure until it gets the message. Sloppy Joe’s and Margaritaville each take in about $100,000 a day in gross revenue. I don’t imagine they’d try to take a second bite any time soon at that redneck justice apple. Nor do I imagine any of the other bars and joints would care to take a second bite either.
Imagine Margaret Romero or Craig Cates proposing such a stupid solution to such a complex problem. Don’t hurt your brain.
Amen—-those head splitting bikes are torture;
unless one is drunk or on drugs—devastating.
Sloan__your solution is rational –an extinct concept
around here—-it is a health hazard and exposed to
that level damages hearing—-a litigation potential –we
need to research that out. Medically it does damage hearing
I am not certain to what extent, or long term effects ?
A perverse issue probably related to insecure penile function,
most probably one factor —–thanks for your attention !!! Jerry
Extinct. Hmmm. Hard to imagine not going extinct riding a motorcycle making the racket I hear motorcycles make on Duval Street, but Darwin must have figured out a way for bikers to evolve through that. Their noise is aggravating, obnoxious, even egregious, a weapon even, but perhaps not damaging to short-term listeners. Insecure penile. Indeed. Takes many forms, I imagine, but loud motorcycles seems to be a cherished form of it. I forgot to say I would apply the redneck justice procedure also to cars, trucks, even bicycles and tricycles, with their sound system amplifiers turned all the way up. And to that revolting thump, thump, thump bass, which seems peculiarly designed and intended to destroy all living organisms except for the mutants who evolved to thrive on it. The people I feel sorry for are Key West residents near bars and joints which play loud music, and worse, bass. Duval Street is loud, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about sound that is just too darn loud and/or invasive, in the case of bass, coming out of some of the joints and bars. I suppose there is a psychiatric term for it. Sociopaths come to my mind. Later
SLOAN: I agree with it all but one has to start somewhere
and Motorcycles are antediluvian monsters that no
self respecting city or space on this planet would tolerate.
However, we have NO self-respect- let’s face the OBVIOUS,
Yes. I have had a few as patients –they feel their penis is insufficient,
not adequate, too small –they feel compensated by their incredible
disruptive noise making big shinning machines –a compensation;
let’s face facts.They feel important –the more noise the better;
dissonance producing is compensatory –they are noticed.
Every one suffers from their noise –drinking enough is the solution,
more revenue justifies all….. have a fine evening !!—Jerry
I replied to Jerry this morning, after being beat up on a bit by the angels:
I imagine some or more or a lot of them also suffer deep soul trauma, causes various, which drives them unawares to express it in making loud noise and in who knows what all other ways. I should have written that yesterday, and that when I was a teenageer, I did plenty of stuff I later wished I had not done, which disturbed other people’s peace; far worse stuff than riding a loud motorcycle through a peaceful neighborhood. Looking back, I was a hoodlum, but underneath that, I was really torn up in my soul. And, yes, lack of self respect and deep feelings of inadequacy certainly haunted and drove me. I was crying out for help in a twisted way. I suppose I should be grateful I did not become a complete sociopath myself.
poignant and very true; we all have layers and layers of complicated feelings; hurt, traumatized, guilt ridden, insecurity, feelings of inadequacy, “rage and sorrow ” they are all there I could go on —–we suffer– our feelings are trampled on– lacerated —-again all that and more. we build up defensive armor that often submerges the best parts of our selves —-we do have joy and happiness –naturally we seize and treasure those –and ultimately they are reduced to memories –cherished ones. everyone one of us must discover and affirm who we are despite convention, society etc. you get what I mean–self affirmation –sometimes horribly difficult–but necessary —-have an enjoyable day—–Jerry
I imagine, in God’s eyes, we all are insane, mutants, and worse; fortunately, God loves us anyway, regardless of how anyone else feels about us.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly