Sanford police chief calls out witnesses for not coming forward in recent shootings

- Five shootings in Sanford over the past week have left residents angry and law enforcement frustrated. 

“They think they can just come in and take your child’s life, and think you’re supposed to be okay with it. It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all. I don’t like it, and I’m sick of it. I hope the police put them all in jail and never let them out,” said Cheryl Martin.

She’s heartbroken and outraged after her grandson, 28-year-old Toby Martin, was shot and killed in his grandparent’s backyard around 7:30 Thursday night.

“My sister and my niece were sitting in the carport. And, Toby was sitting at the table like he usually does by himself,” said Martin. “And the guy just pulled up and confronted him asked him give it up, give me what you got. Toby asked him what you talking about. And the guy didn’t even give him a chance, just started shooting. As he shot my brother opened the back door and shot at my brother. Then he backed out the alley and kept shooting, shot all the way down to the road.”

Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith has not confirmed the specifics of what happened to Martin; however, he does say that incident is the latest in a string of violence in the city over the last week. 

Investigators say it started last Saturday, October 29, at 6:20 p.m., when someone fired at the home at 105 Sterling Court. Less than 24 hours later, SPD says that same house targeted a second time. Six hours later, on Sunday at 8:47 p.m., shots were fired at 144 Hughes Street. The fourth incident occurred when someone opened fire at 12:02 Monday morning. A 16-year-old lying in his bed got struck in the head with a bullet on Little Fox Avenue.

Police say the teen in that fourth shooting is an innocent victim. As of Friday afternoon, that child was in the hospital.  Then, Thursday night Chief Smith says Martin was shot several times.

“This is senseless, it’s senseless and it has to stop,” said Chief Smith.

The chief says the first three incidents might be connected. He says Sanford PD arrested two men, accused of driving a stolen vehicle -- one described at those crime scenes.

As for the two incidents where people were struck, investigators need witnesses. Sanford police detectives, grieving families and friends are begging for help.

“Somebody needs to talk. Somebody needs to speak out. At this point it’s not that you’re a snitch you could be the next person shot. Your mom or your dad could be the next person shot. Your baby could be the next person shot,” said Star, who showed up to comfort Martin’s family after the shooting.

Sanford Police are increasing patrols in the areas where these shootings took place with officers in both marked and unmarked police cars. Seminole County Sheriff's Office is also adding deputies to help.  Chief Smith says he’s working with the U.S. Attorneys Office in hopes of getting any who’s charged in these crimes to be prosecuted in the federal system.

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