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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Insults, fights sparked gunfire
Scuffles and taunts escalated into the shooting of two teens.
By S.I. ROSENBAUM and REBECCA CATALANELLO, Times Staff Writers
Published December 20, 2007
Brian Gainey, 17, is accused of being the gunman.
James Gainey, 16, is charged with attempted first-degree murder.
Jeffrey Brian Argo, 19, is accused of being the driver of the car.
GIBSONTON - One boy told another boy to kiss his shoe or fight.
Big brothers got involved. Deputies say one had a gun.
And what started as childish insults days earlier escalated into an adult-sized crime scene, sending two East Bay High School students to the hospital with bullet wounds and three teenagers to jail, neighbors and deputies say.
Brian Gainey, 17, accused of being the gunman, was booked into jail after 11 p.m. Tuesday. He was the last of three teenagers whom deputies charged as adults with attempted first-degree murder in Monday's Carriage Pointe subdivision shooting.
Brian Gainey, his brother James Gainey, 16, and their co-defendant, Jeffrey Argo, 19, stood before a stern judge Wednesday morning.
It was their first court appearance since investigators say the three drove into the subdivision at 3:30 p.m. in Argo's car and Brian Gainey fired shots at two students walking home from their bus stop.
Gregory Powell and Jessica Davis, both 16, were still recovering at Tampa General Hospital on Wednesday, friends said. Powell was shot in the back, and Davis in the shoulder area of her chest, a sheriff's spokeswoman said.
Neighbors say the shooting was the violent culmination of disputes between the younger brothers of Powell and the Gaineys.
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April Junior, 36, a neighbor of the children involved, said that on Dec. 11, Powell learned that his 12-year-old brother had been forced to kiss the shoe of 15-year-old Travis Tucker.
Tucker is the younger brother of suspects James and Brian Gainey, she said. Public records confirm they all live at the same address, 7956 Carriage Pointe Drive.
After learning about the shoe-kissing, Powell and two female friends walked to Tucker's house, where he spoke with Tucker's mother, Junior said.
The talk turned violent, according to a sheriff's spokeswoman.
Tucker punched Powell's friend Salkumi Mexile, 15, several times in her face, Mexile and Junior said. Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter confirmed the incident but did not disclose the name of the 15-year-old male attacker, who was arrested on a felony battery charge.
"Greg just wanted to know why they would do his little brother like that," said Junior, whose daughter was also at the scene of the fight.
Neither Travis Tucker nor his mother could be reached for comment.
On Dec. 13, two days later, sheriff's deputies responded when someone threw a brick through a window in Tucker's home.
And a day after that, Friday, Tucker was beaten up at a bus stop by people the Sheriff's Office describe as "unknown suspects." No one was arrested.
That's when Tucker's brothers, James and Brian Gainey,stepped in, neighbors say.
Witnesses to the shooting said Monday that James Gainey threatened to hurt those who watched his brother's assault without helping the boy.
Jessica Davis' big brother, DeUndray Davis, 18, told the Times that his sister was among those who watched the Friday fist fight.
"At the bus stop, there's no parents," he said. "There's no police, nobody around." For some, including his sister Jessica, he said, fighting is a spectator sport.
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The victims' families have declined to allow hospital officials to release the teenagers' medical conditions.
But Shayna Junior, 15, April Junior's daughter, said Wednesday that she had talked to Jessica, who told her she is weak but able to get out of bed and into a wheelchair.
Greg is weak, too. He can't get out of bed, Shayna said.
All three of the suspects are being held without bail.
Argo, an East Bay graduate home from Averett University in Danville, Va., for Christmas break, could be charged with violating probation, a judge said Monday. But court records show Argo was arrested last year on a robbery charge, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and had been released from probation in July.
April Junior, who lives just a street over from the Gainey house, said she hasn't seen the family in the area since the shooting.
The Gainey family moved into the subdivision only a few months ago, she said. And Junior said sheriff's deputies have visited her home four times since then about incidents involving the family and her daughters.
Times researcher John Martin and staff writers Colleen Jenkins, Casey Cora, Abbie Vansickle and Thomas Lake contributed to this report. Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813 226-3383.