Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods held a press conference on Friday announcing the arrest of two suspects, a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old, in the recent murders of three teenagers and smacked down a reporter over a question aimed at blaming the gun for the heinous deed.
“The gun laws we have in place didn’t prevent it,” Woods testily told a reporter asking about the gun used in the commission of the crime. “Neither will any new ones. Because here’s the fact. The bad guy is going to get the gun no matter what laws you have in place.”
“There are individuals out there viewing… who want to blame the one thing that has no ability or the capacity to commit the crime itself, and that’s the gun,” the sheriff said during the press conference. “These individuals committed the crime.”
Florida authorities are still searching for a third 16-year-old suspect, according to Fox 35 Orlando.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods SNAPS on reporter for gun question after 3 teens were murdered by suspects using stolen gun.
"All the gun laws we got in place didn't prevent it, did it? … the bad guy's gonna get a gun no matter what law you have put in place!" pic.twitter.com/unDT9pIFcG
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) April 7, 2023
The three suspects “fled the scene but left a lot of evidence in their wake,” according to Woods.
The sheriff says that the suspects are part of a larger group who have been involved in burglaries and robberies.
“We have nothing to say that it was any rivalry or anything to such that cause. However, each and every one of them was associated in some shape or form… was associated in some way with a gang. … There is no honor among thieves, and at some point, these individuals turned on our three victims and murdered them.”
The sheriff said he had to “stare into the eyes” of the suspects’ mothers, who were “willing to give their sons everything,” on Thursday night before they were arrested.
Florida Sheriff Billy Woods is my Hero of the Day! Damn! He's a no bullshit kind of guy. I respect that. We need more of him! Here's two of the scumbags they've got in custody in connection with the murders of the three Florida teens who went missing. One more scumbag to go! pic.twitter.com/KxZM9Ryoqd
— CJ4America (@GrammyC4Zone) April 7, 2023
“The fact is: society fails them. We do not hold our juveniles accountable. We minimize their actions,” Woods asserted.
One of the suspects, Robert Robinson, 17, was taken to a juvenile facility Thursday after he was arrested for brawling at his school, according to the New York Post.
Christopher Atkins, 12, was taken into custody at his home, while a third suspect, Tahj Brewton, 16, is still on the run.
All three victims were reportedly friends and knew their killers. They included an unidentified 17-year-old male and two 16-year-old females identified as Layla Silvernail and Camille Quarles. The teens were shot and left for dead in the rural county north of Orlando sometime between March 30 and April 1.
The horrific discovery was made when CSO deputies responded to the area of Forest Lakes Park on SE 183rd Avenue Road, where they located Silvernail, 16, with a gunshot wound on the side of the road where she was allegedly dumped. She was taken to a hospital in critical condition. The teen was declared brain-dead and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
The next day, the police responded to SE 94th Street and SE 188th Court and found a deceased 17-year-old male with a gunshot wound also apparently dumped on the side of the road. The scene was roughly half a mile from where they found Silvernail.
The following day on April 1, the MCSO Major Crimes Unit, Forensic Unit, and Underwater Recovery Team responded to the area of Malauka Loop and Malauka Loop Trace and found Silvernail’s vehicle partially submerged in a body of water.
“She was there of her own free will,” Woods commented regarding Silvernail.
Police found Quarles dead in Silvernail’s car trunk. The suspects have admitted to shooting and killing her in the vehicle.
The police can prove that the suspects were in her car with the victims before they were killed according to the sheriff. Authorities believe they were all shot at the same time. Woods says that the suspects obtained the guns from car thefts.
The sheriff previously told Fox News that he believed the suspects were part of a “wannabe” or “neighborhood” gang.
Right now, the attorney general’s office is deciding whether to charge the suspects as adults in the murders.
Here’s the full press conference for context:
(Video Credit: Forbes Breaking News)
The response on social media was fierce. Woods basically received a standing ovation over his spanking of the media over guns while people ripped into the young killers:
Finally. More Sheriffs need to stand up for freedom.
— Shane Hazel (@ShaneTHazel) April 7, 2023
He said the obvious part out loud.
— Philly the Kid (@GAVolb) April 7, 2023
And the criminal on the left is only 12 yrs old, God help us
— Sherrie American Girl (@corder_sherrie) April 7, 2023
Sheriff Woods press conference was spot on. He’s a hero for speaking up.
— FJB Deanna (@Dianeoldfart) April 7, 2023
Amen…If we had more law enforcement who would simply be straight about the facts, stop caving to the gun control radicals and simply arrest & prosecute these violent criminals, our communities would be safer.
Criminals will always get a weapon. NO gun control law will…
— ❌ Art – 11th Armored Cav❌ (@yachtzco) April 7, 2023
I agree, we need more like him! He was awesome and honest. I hope they find the little piece of and give all 3 maximum time.
— Kay (@Kay52385893) April 7, 2023
— TrueWest (@Trestresjolie) April 7, 2023
Amen you are a true hero sir and need more like you. Amazing interview, damn media are nothing but propagandists. Nice job setting them straight
— Wendy Marcum (@WendyjeanMarcum) April 7, 2023
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