Amid Lehigh Shooting: How to protect yourself during exchanges

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Photo by WINK News.

A tactical vest is at the center of a deadly shooting in Lee County. An adult seller went to meet three teenagers to sell them the vest. And now that seller is in the hospital with a gunshot wound; one teen is dead; and two teens are facing serious charges.

On Sunday, Jerry Murssaint, 16 and Lamartine Malbranche, 15, were arrested after a Lehigh Acres shooting that killed their friend, 14-year-old J’Martin Hixon. The adult who met the teens to sell them a tactical vest still hasn’t been named by law enforcement.

MORE: 2 teens arrested in Lehigh Acres shooting, 1 teen dead 

The meeting was first initiated through an online sale that was supposed to be finished through the in-person transaction that turned into a shooting. So we looked at how you can protect yourself during these types of exchanges.

There are places in just about every city for people to exchange purchases. Lee County Sheriff’s Office is just one of many safe zones strangers can meet to buy or sell something. The parking lot is well lit. There are cars nearby, and there is video surveillance on the property.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” Deborah Messenger said. “There’s so much crime coming in lately even in my own neighborhood, and I live in a gated community.”

Messenger lives in a gated community she thought was always safe, but there has been an increase in car break-ins.

“So if there is a place to go and have a safe zone to meet with someone or sell something or anything like that, I’m all for it,” Messenger said.

Rich Kolko, WINK News’ safety and security expert, explains best practices for exchanging merchandise.

“Find any government facility you can,” Kolko said. “In Lehigh, go to the sheriff’s office, go to the local fire department. Just do it in the parking lot there where there are other people. Have somebody with you, security camera and well lit. Do everything you can to keep yourself safe.”

The teens and the adult in the Lehigh shooting over the weekend met at the corner of Centennial Boulevard and Cedartree Avenue in a neighborhood.

“Well never do that,” Messenger said. “That’s for sure. That’s a bad idea.”

According to the sheriff’s office, Hixon fired the first shot, and the seller fired back. Hixon died at the scene. The seller is expected to live.

A judge sent Murssaint and Malbranche to juvenile detention for 21 days Monday. They face several chargers, including Murder While Engaged In A Felony Offense Or Robbery.

“If you’re doing it with a complete stranger, there’s nothing wrong with taking the extra precautions to stay safe,” Kolko said.

MORE: App and online exchanges better completed in ‘safe zones’

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