Two arrested in connection to murder of Lakeland teen - WRBL

Two arrested in connection to murder of Lakeland teen

Posted: Updated:
Tyler Knight Tyler Knight
Taqiy Malik Lewis Taqiy Malik Lewis
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) - The Lakeland Police Department has arrested two teens in connection to the murder of 17-year-old Damarco Powell. Police announced the arrests Monday morning and confirmed the shooting was gang-related.

Tyler Knight, 16, a student at Kathleen High School, was arrested late Monday night and charged with First-Degree Murder with Firearm.Taqiy Lewis, a student at Bill Duncan Opportunity Center, has been charged with False Reports to Law Enforcement Concerning a Capital Felony.

According to police affidavits, the motive for the crime was over content of a cell phone message that indicated Powell was going to "set them up." The affidavit says: "The statement was in gang code, but essentially said the decedent had to be plucked."

Witnesses stated that as they walked through the wooded area, Knight pulled a handgun and shot Powell in the back of the head.  Investigators believe he was shot around 9:30 p.m. Friday.

He was reported missing by his mother, Tiffany Powell Humphries, around 3:15 a.m. Saturday and his body was discovered in a ditch off the 1300-block of Atline Road in Lakeland about two hours later.

Police say according to witnesses both Powell and Knight were part of a gang known as Armed And Dangerous (AAD).

During the investigation, police say Lewis provided false information to detectives which results in him being charged with false report to a law enforcement concerning a capital felony.

In a press conference Tuesday, Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens stressed the importance of parents knowing what their children are up to and reporting anything suspicious. He says school resource officers will talk directly to parents, staff and students about gang violence. He said knowing what your children are posting online and through cell-phone messages can be helpful in staying aware of their activity.

"The most important fight with gangs are the families, because families know what's going on and parents need to get involved in their children's lives," Giddens said.

In this case, authorities say the families of both the victim and suspects were cooperative with police and that's partly how arrests came so quickly.

Authorities do not believe the community has reason to be concerned for safety based off Saturday's incident.

"I don't think in this particular case they should be, but we're always concerned about the safety of our public," Capt. Greg Policastro, with the Lakeland Police Department, said.

Keith Klepper has owned a restaurant in the area where the incident happened for more than 30 years. He said it doesn't give him any reason to be more concerned about the area. He said he feels safe, but is always aware of his surroundings.

"I don’t think gangs hang out in a particular place. I think they're everywhere," Klepper said. "They look for their opportunities and it doesn't matter whether they're on this side of town or any side of town."

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