3 teens shot and killed in Marion County possibly tied to a 'wannabe gang,' sheriff says

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said Tuesday that the deaths of three teenagers over a span of three days are believed to be connected, but cautioned that it is also considered to be an isolated incident.

During a news conference, Sheriff Woods said he was not able to release a lot of details citing the integrity of the investigation, but wanted to dispel a rumor about a possible serial killer on the run, which he said was "far from the truth."

He said the three teenagers – who were located between Thursday and Saturday in separate locations – knew each other and were believed to be friends. He said it was possible that the case may have connections to a "hybrid gang," which he further described as MCSO-lingo for a "wannabe gang."

Sheriff Woods, however, did not elaborate further, citing the investigation. It wasn't immediately what connection, if any, the teens may have had to an alleged gang.

On Thursday, a 16-year-old girl, later identified as Layla Silvernail, was found laying on the side of a road near Forest Lakes Park in Ocklawaha, Florida. She had been shot and was transported to the hospital in critical condition, where she later died.

On Friday, Marion County deputies responded to SE 94th Street and SE 188th Court and found a 17-year-old boy with gunshot wounds laying on the side of the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was being withheld at the request of her family, the sheriff's office said.

On Saturday, deputies responded to the area of Malauka Loop and Malauka Loop Trace regarding a vehicle that was partially submerged at the edge of the lake. Inside the vehicle, deputies found a third person– a 16-year-old girl – who had been shot and was declared dead at the scene.

Her name was not released citing her family's request, sheriff officials said.

Sheriff Woods said Tuesday that deputies have "many suspects," though he was unable to elaborate. He also declined to discuss whether officials believe there to be one shooter or multiple shooters, citing the integrity of the investigation.

Officials are not looking for additional victims, he said. The families of the victims are cooperating with law enforcement, he said.