DAYTONA BEACH, Fla (WOFL FOX 35) - Daytona Beach police detectives continue to investigate shootings that happened just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday. In all, four people were injured, including three teenaged girls and a man in his twenties.
One of those victims is Mercedes McMillan, 18, who was shot in both legs, according to accounts from family members. They said she was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" during what appeared to be a drive-by shooting targeting someone else.
Police say the bullets were meant for a group of people standing outside a home on Sheridan Drive. Two other victims, Jnya Payne,18, and Ronald Williams, 25, were both hit but were able to drive themselves to the hospital. The fourth victim has been identified as a 14-year-old girl.
"A white, stolen Hyundai, occupied by three males, pulled up," explained Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood. "There were four or five people standing outside that residence, and they opened fire with three guns."
Police chased the Hyundai through Daytona Beach and into South Daytona to an apartment complex in the 1700 block of Palmetto. "Everybody bails out. We arrest one male who's breaking into an apartment," Chitwood said.
That suspected burglar has been identified as Ricardo Watson. His brother, Rakim Watson, is the man police are pointing to as the main suspect in Tuesday's shootings, but Chitwood said he is also a suspect in a separate murder investigation. "Rakim Watson is our prime suspect in the murder of Deandre Smith, who was killed on Mother's Day."
Chief Chitwood thinks all of the shootings are related to an argument between Smith's friends and family and Watson's friends and family. He said no witnesses will cooperate in the murder case. If they had, he said, Rakim Watson would have been behind bars.
"I commit a murder, the whole community knows I committed a murder, and the cops can't touch me. So, what's gonna stop me and my posse from going out and killing somebody else? Because you know what? Nobody's gonna ever testify against me, and that's the message the community sends when they allow these thugs and these punks to run roughshod over a community," said Chitwood.
Anyone with information about the shooting incident or the murder of Deandre Smith is asked to call the Daytona Beach Police Department.