New documents detail what may have led to mass shooting at Club Blu

Reporter: Anika Henanger, Justin Kase Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Stefan Strawder, 18, and Sean Archilles, 14, who died at Club Blu in 2016. Photo via WINK News.
Stefan Strawder, 18, and Sean Archilles, 14, who died at Club Blu in 2016. Photo via WINK News.

The probable cause affidavit made public Friday morning explains how a high school fight involving two rival gang members escalated into a mass shooting that left two teens dead.

The 42-page report mentions a fight at Dunbar High School between members of the 1Way and Bottom Boys gangs in May of 2015. The Fort Myers Police Department makes a compelling case against the five accused killers.

One of the people involved in the fight 14 months prior, was 1Way member Demetrius O’Neal. Now, he’s been charged with one of the Club Blu killings. Fort Myers Police say that O’Neal was fighting with Bottom Boys gang member Javonte Whitfield.

Detectives add that Whitfield was likely the target of the club shooting. They also say that 1Way gang members targeted Whitfield a handful of times prior to Club Blu but missed him. In August of 2015, a 12-year-old girl was shot in a drive-by shooting. She was standing next to Whitfield when 1Way gang member fired at them both. Everyone got to the ground except Javonte Whitfield who began firing back.

Investigators say that the night of the shooting, 1Way gang members met at a home, dressed in dark clothing and left that residence heavily armed. Then they headed to Club Blu, which was supposed to be hosting a teen beach party.

Fort Myers Police Sergeant Lisa Breneman works with the homicide squad. “Just visualize that, hundreds of people in the parking lot, people shooting, the only thing stopping bullets were bodies,” Breneman said.

Breneman says this was planned. “However you want to classify it together. They worked in concert to plan and carry out this act,” said Breneman.

Breneman and Lieutenant Mike Walsh worked this shooting case in the last two years. “We had things that were in the case file that we didn’t understand the relevance of it. At one point, until you really start going through everything,” sergeant Breneman said.

When school let out in the summer of 2016, a 1Way gang member posted #BloodySummer online.

They were also able to recover cell phone video and text messages that they believe will prove that O’Neal and 1Way organized the shooting. They say 1Way member Kierra Russ signaled O’Neal, the shooter from inside the club, that Whitfield, their target, was leaving.

The next step was to connect them to fellow 1Way members, Derrick Church, Tajze Battle and Dontrill Loggins. They used advanced testing to match gunshot residue, DNA and fingerprint evidence to these three people.

Police also think this evidence will prove that they are responsible for the deaths of Stef’An Stawder and Sean Archilles, who got caught in the crossfire. Stawder was a high school senior and Archilles an eighth-grader.

Police recovered more than 100 shell casings that night and were able to link them to 15 different firearms.

As for Javonte Whitfield, he was later arrested and convicted on gun and drug charges. He’s set to be released from the Department of Corrections in four days.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how big of a case this was,” Breneman said. Police say it was also satisfying to make those arrests.

Community fear played a factor in length of investigation

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