Putnam County residents in an unincorporated area of Palatka said their community is under siege by gun violence.
Investigators said the repeated gun violence involving a home on Ash Street is one of three locations linked to a dozen shootings in both Palatka and unincorporated Palatka since January.
Gun violence, according to detectives, is loosely associated with the Cut Throat gang and animosity from previous romantic relationships.
The latest incident happened on Sunday after a woman said someone chased her from the home and shot at her. Tamorian Taylor, 22, and Ahquavious Jenkins, 19, were arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Col. Joe Wells says they are still looking for a third suspect in the incident.
“This is number 3. And this is priority number one right now for the sheriff’s office. This is Jamie Alton Johnson. At the age of 21, he is already a convicted felon. He’s known to batter pregnant women. He’s known to be involved in this gunplay. And he’s known to be loosely affiliated with gangs,” Wells said.
Deputies said the home where Taylor’s mother lives has been a repeated target for shooter and shootouts. His mother said she, her daughter and other relatives who live in the home are targeted victims.
“You can see the bullet holes all through the bathroom, and the trailer and nothing was ever done about it,” Taylor’s mother Tameka Hallman said. “Only thing we do is drop on the floor and pray to God that a bullet never hits us.”
Fortunately, none of them have been injured.
Given the history of repeated gun violence in this area, sheriff deputies stayed close by to make sure it was safe for News4JAX to not only enter the home but speak to the people who live there.
The home is full of bullet holes and patches of places where bullets penetrated the house. The people who live here are not the only ones dealing with property damage from bullet holes.
A nearby neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, said recently when shooters were targeting the other home, her property was also riddled with bullets. She said it’s quiet one moment then all of a sudden…
“I can hear the rounds and we are constantly ducking and falling on the floor,” the neighbor said.
According to Wells, the community is steps closer to once again being a safe and quiet place thanks to witnesses who are starting to anonymously come forward with information — the same people who in the past have remained silent out of fear of retaliation.
“They just reached their fill of what they are going to tolerate in the community and they’re starting to come to action. I think between that and the number of resources that we have dedicated to this at the Sheriff’s Office, we are on the cusp of bringing this under control,” Wells said. “The two arrests last night and when we get Mr. Jamie Johnson in custody, who is our third key player, I really think we’re going to start to see some impact here.”
All three suspects in the case will be prosecuted under the “Young Guns” initiative. It’s a program used by the state attorney’s office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to help prosecute violent young offenders who willfully use guns in the commission of a crime.
The young defendants will not be able to cut a deal to get a lighter prison sentence if convicted.