16-year-old dies in Franklin Street shooting in Fort Myers; suspect arrested

Published: April 26, 2022 12:04 PM EDT
Updated: April 27, 2022 11:22 AM EDT

Fort Myers police say they have detained a suspect in the death of 16-year-old De’mari Jackson, an innocent bystander killed by a bullet in the Southward Village community on Sunday night.

The Fort Myers Police Department confirmed Jackson’s identity to WINK News on Tuesday. and said they arrested 19-year-old Syncere Trice of Fort Myers. Trice faces a charge of second-degree homicide after speaking with detectives, police said.

Jackson’s death also marks the first homicide of the year for the city.

Officers say Jackson was an innocent bystander struck by gunfire after a fight broke out among a large group of people in the 3000 block of Franklin Street at around 8:30 p.m.

Syncere Trice (CREDIT: Fort Myers Police Department)

During a Monday news conference, police officials said they were having a hard time contacting next-of-kin. Jackson was a student at Fort Myers High School but authorities were unable to reach his family.

People in Jackson’s neighborhood say Jackson was killed on the day of his baptism, while he was still in his Sunday best.

Oennie Mitchell, who knew Jackson, said they will remember him as always having fun.

“With the basketball and catching the football,” Mitchell said. “Never heard him curse. You know how some kids get out there and act crazy? He never did that.”

Those who knew Jackson always knew him by his smile.

“He was always talking nice and laughing and grinning,” Mitchell said. “This is a tragedy because he goes to school every day. He takes care of his aunt and his grand-daddy. A good person lost their life.”

Bobbie-Ann Brown, who has lived in the neighborhood for a long time, said she used to say hi to Jackson every day. She heard the gunshots ring out on Sunday night, walked over to see who it was and discovered that it was her friend.

“I wanted to see who it was,” Brown said. “I didn’t know it was my little friend who comes through here all the time. He always tells me ‘hey’. I miss him.”

Family and friends have gathered all day to pay their respects to his family.

“Officers and community members worked together to bring about this quick arrest,” said Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs. “Our unified front shows we will not accept the senseless murder of a teenager in our city. I am very proud of these officers and our relationship with our community. By working together, we can continue to make Fort Myers a better place to live, work and raise a family.”