Fort Myers nightclub shooting: 'Exceptional' 18-year-old, 'sweet' 14-year-old killed
The two teen boys killed in a shooting at a Florida nightclub were being remembered Tuesday as a talented basketball star with a promising future and a "funny kid" who didn't even get a chance to see his high school years.
Stef'an Strawder, 18, and Sean Archilles, 14, were gunned down Monday morning outside Club Blu in Fort Myers. Police said the violence was not an act of terror, but investigators had yet to release a motive early Tuesday. Three persons of interest were taken into custody shortly after the shooting, and police said they might be looking for more suspects.
An additional 18 people — between the ages of 12 and 27 — were injured in the mayhem. Three of them remained hospitalized Tuesday, said Pat Dolce, a spokesperson for Lee Memorial Hospital. Two of the patients were in critical condition and one was in fair condition, Dolce said.
RELATED: Photos from the scene
The street outside of Club Blu was strewn Monday morning with at least two dozen markers indicating shell casings Monday morning. Archilles died in the spray of bullets at the scene, while Strawder made it to the hospital, but died shortly after going into surgery, his mother said.
"When they took him into the operating room, they said it was gonna take two to three hours. Within 30- 45 minutes later, here she comes. So we knew it had to be bad news," said Stephanie White. "That was a devastating blow."
Strawder had just finished his junior year at Lehigh Senior, where he had scored more than a thousand points on the basketball court, according to NBC affiliate WBBH. White said her son already had "quite a bit of" colleges looking at him, and everyone knew him as "the shooter," but he wasn't focused on the accolades.
"Anybody on the team that wasn't advanced as he was, he would try to make him score, which he did. He didn't have to score, long as he made them score," White said.
"He was the kindest, sweetest son," she said. "I miss him. I really do."
"No matter where he went, everyone invited him into their home like he was their own," Sharrelle Strawder, Stef'an's 19-year-old sister, told The News-Press."People loved him."
"This was a good kid that we lost," said Jackie Corey, principal at Lehigh Senior. "Stef'an Strawder was an exceptional, exceptional young man on and off the court, he was a scholar, he was a good boy that did the right thing, and he was a leader among his peers at this school," Corey said.
Lee County School District also lost another young student in Monday's shooting. Archilles was set to enter eighth grade at Royal Palm Exceptional Center, according to the district.
Archilles was also a basketball player, and involved in youth ministry, even though he was barely a teen himself.
"He liked to make people laugh. He's a funny kid. He's always joking," his father, Jean Archilles said.
Evender Dormus, Archilles' cousin, told WBBH that he was struggling with the realization that he's "not going to see him again."
"I'm going to miss him so much," Dormus said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday expressed his horror over the shooting, which came just a little more than a month after 49 people were killed at a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando. "The first thing you think about is as a parent or grandparent, you can't imagine this happening to any family," he said.
He promised that those responsible for the most recent outbreak of violence would be brought to justice. Three arrests in connection to the shooting had been made, and police said more could come.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office said the three suspects were tracked down as other first responders were treating victims at the scene. Demetrius O'Neal, 19, Derrick Church, 19, and Tajze Battle, 22, tipped deputies off when they fled the club's parking lot in two separate vehicles, leading police on a chase.
Church was shot in the abdomen during the pursuit when he allegedly tried to ram his car into officers, according to the sheriff's office. He was treated and released from the hospital and has since been charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and fleeing and eluding. His bond is set at $50,000, according to jail records.
Battle and O'Neal have been charged with resisting without violence.
Police said they don't yet know what sparked the shooting, but Brandy Mclaughlin, a security guard at Blu, told The Associated Press that she thinks it stemmed from a dispute over a rapper not being able to perform.