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“The murder charge is critical”: American Legion Post shooting suspects facing new charges

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The State Attorney’s Office for the Eighth Judicial Circuit announced upgraded charges for the three teenagers arrested in connection with the American Legion shooting that happened on June 24.

In a press release from the State Attorney’s Office, officials said 16-year-old Christian Jones fired the shot that killed Christopher Scott. Jones is charged with second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, and carrying a concealed firearm.

“The murder charge is critical not only for this community but for that family. We have a lot of questions surrounding how a kid party can turn into this. We are looking for answers, how a kid party can turn into a night where folks are being sent to the hospital. I don’t know if we will ever get the answers for that, but we can work on solutions in this community to help resolve that,” explained Chief Investigator for the State Attorney’s Office Darry Lloyd.

17-year-old Javari Baptiste is charged with attempted second-degree murder, resisting an officer without violence, possession of a firearm by a delinquent, and tampering with physical evidence.

RELATED STORY: Two more teens arrested in American Legion party shooting

17-year-old Jarquez Mitchell is charged with attempted second-degree murder, carrying a concealed firearm, and tampering with physical evidence.

“We received the information and the evidence from the police department and we make the determination on the charges. In this case, all of the new counts were done so by our office. It is called direct file,” said Lloyd.

14-year-old Jakaren Ford’s charges were not upgraded. Gainesville Police investigators say Ford was not directly involved in the shooting. Ford and Baptiste fled the scene in a stolen car the night of the shooting. Ford was charged with accessory after the fact.

Lloyd said as the State Attorney’s Office pursues charges in this case, it is important for people to stand up against gun violence and send a message.

“This shouldn’t be tolerated by the community. Not just the State Attorney’s Office, or the Gainesville Police Department, or the sheriff’s office. This should be a response from the entire community,” explained Lloyd.

Lawyers representing the parents of Christopher Scott sent TV20 the following statement:

The family of Christopher Scott appreciates the outpouring of love and support they have received from the community and across the state.  Their loss is immeasurable, and they ask that everyone continue to respect their privacy at this time.  A GoFundMe has been set up to assist the family. Fundraiser by Stephanie Scott : Christopher Scott-medical expense (gofundme.com) We are otherwise not at liberty to make a statement regarding these matters beyond what has already been made public.  Our firm continues to work together with Batts-Daniels Law representing this family related to this matter.”

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