Rivalry Between Juvenile Gangs Responsible For Multiple Shootings, Police Say. Several Law Enforcement Agencies Working Together
EUSTIS, Florida—Tavares Police arrested a teenager last week on a juvenile pickup order for shooting at an apartment with children inside earlier this month while another group of children played basketball just 350 feet away, and Eustis Police say it is just one shooting in a string of violent encounters between two rival gangs that has lasted for more than a year.
Shortly before 6 p.m. Feb. 7, EPD responded to a drive-by shooting in the 1200 block of East Hazzard Avenue, and found a bullet hit a home and a tree, along with four shell casings in the roadway, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Police spoke to witnesses and found that two cars pulled up to the children playing basketball and asked where someone was by their nickname, “Cherry Lake.” “Cherry Lake” is a known gang member, affiliated with the “510 Gang.” Inside Lake is not naming “Cherry Lake” by his real name, because he has not been charged with a crime. The males then got back into one of the vehicles and left; another witness described the same vehicle driving by her apartment and firing shots.
The “4wayy” gang has been investigated for several shootings dating back to November 2020, according to Eustis Police Chief Craig Capri. Police believe there is a rivalry between “510 Gang” that is comprised of mostly juveniles who live in or grew up in Eustis, and “4wayy” that is comprised of mostly juveniles who live in or grew up in Mount Dora. Police are still investigating the motive behind the rivalry; they have received information that it started over stolen guns, a female, drugs, and trash talking, according to an EPD detective working the case.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Mount Dora Police Department and Tavares Police Department have all been working together, gathering intelligence and trading information, Capri told Inside Lake. Capri’s own officers have been working hard to talk to witnesses and gather evidence to make arrests.
“I am very proud of the men and women of Eustis Police Department and the work they have put in on these cases,” Capri said.
This rivalry began more than a year ago and there have been 15 to 20 shootings reported to law enforcement involving these two gangs in a little over a year, and police believe there are more that have been unreported, Capri said, and most were drive-by shootings where no one was injured. The home on Hazzard Avenue has been shot at, at least four times in the last few months, an EPD detective close to the investigation said. Police are still working to figure out exactly what started it, Capri said. Though it is believed to have begun earlier in November 2020, on Nov. 27, 2020, a woman, who was an innocent bystander, was shot in downtown Eustis following the city’s annual “Light Up Eustis” festivities. She was standing in the brick area near Wells Fargo Advisors and Sol De Mexico when she was hit by one of the three shots fired. This reporter was the only media on scene following that incident. Brycen Jacobe Williams, then 17, was arrested less than two months later for the shooting.
In this most recent shooting on Feb. 7, a tipster showed police a Snapchat story posted by Williams that showed EPD cars on the scene with the caption, “Ain’t Nomoee Who Dat, We Shoot Dat.”
Gang members from both sides have utilized social media to brag and get “street credit,” the detective told Inside Lake. Videos and photos were discovered on social media showing the car suspected in the Feb. 7 shooting near the shooting location on the same date. In those videos, a white Dodge Dart, the car suspected in the shooting, can be seen in the photos and videos, according to the affidavit. The photos and videos were recorded just six minutes before the shots were fired.
EPD, LCSO, MDPD and LCSO stepped up patrols in response to this shooting and the following day, Feb. 8, a white Dodge Dart was spotted speeding less than a half of a mile from the shooting scene on Hazzard Avenue around 10:45 p.m. And EPD officer attempted to pull the Dodge over and it fled several blocks. The car suddenly pulled over and at least one passenger bailed out of the car and fled on foot.
The driver, Joseph Antwon Baker, 21, of Tavares was taken into custody and searched. Police found a small bag of marijuana, his wallet, $20, a scale and a Vienna sausage, according to the arrest affidavit. Baker told EPD there were two people in his vehicle who fled from the scene. Baker said once EPD got behind the car, the front seat passenger, Artavious “Kutt” Williams, 16, put a gun to his head and said, “If you stop, I’m going to kill you.”
Editor’s note: Although Brycen Williams, who was arrested for the Light Up Eustis shooting, and Artavious Williams are both said to be gang members and have the same last name, they are not related according to EPD.
Baker was arrested for feeling and eluding, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on $7,000 bond.
Baker told police Robert “Swag” Sharp Jr. texted him on Feb. 7 to play basketball. He picked Sharp up, and they played at Carver Pak in Eustis and then went home. He denied any shots were fired from his car; however, Baker did identify Sharp from a photo on social media and confirmed Sharp was standing in front of Baker’s Dodge Dart in the photo.
On Feb. 9, in a second interview, Baker admitted he was driving and Williams aka “Kutt” was in the passenger seat while Sharp was in the back. Baker said Williams stood outside the window and fired shots at the apartment of Hazzard Avenue. Two other individuals were also in the backseat, according to Baker, but Inside Lake is not naming them because they have not been charged with a crime at this time.
Williams and Sharp have both been arrested for the Feb. 7 shooting, according to EPD. TPD picked up Sharp and it is unclear when Williams was picked up. They are facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, improper exhibition of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a minor.
Police also believe the shooting at Sunset Island Park on Jan. 22 involves some “4wayy” members, but the shooting was random, Capri told Inside Lake. Thomas Saliba, 17, was shot in the face during a 3-year-old’s birthday party, but was not targeted, Capri said. It is believed that the individuals involved in that shooting just randomly decided to shoot up a park, he said. One person has been arrested in that case.
LCSO, EPD, MDPD and TPD are continuing to work together, and more arrests are forthcoming, Capri said.