Two suspects have been arrested in the shooting deaths of three teenagers in Florida, a sheriff announced Friday. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said authorities are searching for a third suspect.
During a press conference Friday morning, Woods said all of the suspects were male juveniles. In a statement posted to social media, police said the suspects in custody are 17 years old and 12 years old and the suspect not in custody is 16 years old.
The sheriff’s office said the suspects in custody were charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors haven’t decided whether to try the suspects as adults, Woods said.
The suspects and the victims were associated with a gang “in some shape or form,” Woods said. Investigators determined that the group was involved in committing burglaries and robberies, Woods said.
“Basically, simple terms, there is no honor among thieves,” Woods said. “And at some point, these three individuals turned on our three victims and murdered them.”
Woods said a gun used in the shooting was stolen from a car, but he wouldn’t say whether more than one gun was used in the killings.
Police identified one of the victims as 16-year-old Layla Silvernail. The other victims have been identified as a 17-year-old male and another 16-year-old female.
Silvernail was found on the side of a road last Thursday night with a gunshot wound and died at a hospital, police said. Last Friday, the male victim was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound on the side of another road. On Saturday, Silvernail’s vehicle was found partially submerged in a small pond, and the other female victim was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound inside the vehicle.
During Friday’s press conference, Woods said the third victim’s body was found in the vehicle’s trunk.
“Based on the interviews, digital evidence from her phone, she was there of her own free will,” the sheriff said.
The two suspects in custody confessed to shooting the victim who was found in the trunk, Woods said.
A sheriff’s office official told reporters the 17-year-old suspect was already in custody at a juvenile detention facility when he was arrested in the murder investigation. Woods said the suspect was arrested because he was involved in “a fray” at school.
The 12-year-old suspect was arrested at his house Thursday after investigators served a search warrant, the official said.
“They were very surprised we showed up,” the official said.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misidentified a sheriff’s office official as spokesman Paul Bloom. The story has been corrected.