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School gunplay suspect gives up

By REBECCA CATALANELLO
Published June 9, 2007


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TAMPA - A 20-year-old Tampa man turned himself in on Friday in connection with a shooting at Middleton High School this week.

Tampa police say Christopher Lemons, 20, of 1512 East Louisiana Ave. carried a gun onto campus Wednesday, got into a fight with the intended victims, then turned the weapon over to 17-year-old Ariel Cruz, who took aim and fired.

The bullet didn't get past the bullet-resistant glass, but it caused enough panic that some teens taking summer school classes jumped out of the first-floor window. No one was hurt.

They fled in a green Toyota Camry or a similar vehicle, police said. Cruz, of 4106 N 15th St., Tampa, and a 16-year-old friend were both arrested later that day and were booked into the county's Juvenile Assessment Center early Thursday morning.

Cruz is charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, a felony. The 16-year-old is accused of a misdemeanor offense of trespassing on campus. The Times is not naming him because he is a minor and his offense is not a felony.

Lemons, so far the only adult arrested in the incident, has a history of criminal offenses, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

His prior arrests include possession of marijuana, for which he was on probation at the time of the shooting; operating an unregistered vehicle and petit theft.

In the Middleton High shooting, Lemons is charged with violation of probation, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, trespassing on school property with a deadly weapon and armed trespassing.

He was held at the Orient Road Jail without bail.

Police are still searching for a fourth person, who they believe stayed in the vehicle while the others got out on foot to confront the intended victim, Octavious Laundry, 17, and another student.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at 813 226-3383 or rcatalanello@sptimes.com.

[Last modified June 9, 2007, 02:08:31]


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