‘It was a horrifying experience’: A teen is behind bars after a 5-year-old is shot in Putnam County

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 11:15 PM EDT
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INTERLACHEN, Fla. (WCJB) - Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies said 17-year-old Jaelin Tito Hope is responsible for firing the shots at a car in Interlachen.

Deputies were called out to the corner of Oak-crest avenue and 5th way.

“We were outside playing and all of a sudden we heard gunshots,” said neighbor Manuel Rodriguez. “We had to rush the kids inside not knowing what was going on.”

Deputies said the victim’s father was driving with two children and their mother in the car when Hope flagged them down.

The two got into an argument and then Hope pulled out a gun, said, investigators.

“The suspect initially displayed a firearm that was in his waistband and later as the man and his children tried to drive off, the suspect fired into the vehicle repeatedly, striking the child,” shared PCSO Chief deputy, Joseph Wells.

Deputies said that there were 4 to 5 bullets shot into the vehicle. An eight-year-old was injured after the glass shattered and the 5-year-old boy was shot in the head.

“I’m just so sorry it happened for a 5-year-old. It’s just so sad,” said neighbor Teresa Whitfield. “It’s just unfortunate, you know. My prayers are with them, and the family.”

Deputies said the 5-year-old child was then airlifted to a hospital in Gainesville.

The child is stable in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery.

“Within about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, our crime suppression units had located the suspect in Palatka and placed him in custody,” stated Chief Wells.

Hope was taken to the Putnam County jail and was then transferred to the Juvenile Justice Facility.

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