FORT MYERS, Fla. — UPDATE 12/10/2020
Wearing masks and jail uniforms, the five people accused in the shooting deaths of two teenagers went before a Lee County judge today from jail via video and telephone.
The judge set their bail at $750,000. If bond is posted, they'll be monitored electronically.
UPDATE 6 PM:
Today the Club Blu Task Force announces the arrests of, and charges filed, against five people for the murders of a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old that occurred at Club Blu on July 25, 2016. The mass shooting at 3580 Evans Avenue in Fort Myers was during an “under 18 beach party” at the club that night. Two people were shot and killed, fourteen people shot and wounded.
As part of Operation Club Blu, early this morning the Fort Myers Police Department, FBI, and the Florida Regional U.S. Marshal’s Task Force, carried out a coordinated plan to serve arrest warrants. In a span of just 15 minutes, Demetrious O’Neal, Derrick Leon Church, Tajze Akir Battle, Kierra Kashayla Russ, and Don Dontrill Loggins were all taken into custody. Each defendant has been charged with two counts of Second Degree Murder which is a punishable by life felony and one count each of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, a second degree felony. The information, or charging document, for each defendant, was filed by prosecutors Tuesday.
State Attorney Amira Fox, Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs, and FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Davis Christy, joined to direct additional resources to the existing task force earlier this year. Agencies dedicated experienced personnel to the Operation Club Blu team under this new initiative. They have been working on developing information in this case and their work has led to charges being filed for this crime. The State Attorney’s Office Cold Case Homicide Unit was assigned as well as law enforcement personnel from each agency.
Assistant State Attorneys Dan Feinberg, Anthony Kunasek, and Sara Miller are part of that team and will be prosecuting the case. The team also includes Fort Myers Police Detective Wolfgang Daniel, Fort Myers Police Department Attorney Bob Lee, FBI Special Agent James Roncinske, and State Attorney’s Office Homicide Investigator Steve Scalici.
“By bringing the knowledge and experience of these specific people together, and the partnership of the agencies, we are able to announce these arrests today. The victims and their families should be first in our thoughts. I hope the arrests bring some sense of peace to those directly impacted by this heinous crime which took the lives of two young victims and left fourteen injured. The mass shooting that occurred impacted the lives of so many innocent people. This case is far from over and as we enter into the prosecution stage, our work is far from done,” said State Attorney Amira Fox.
Today the task force released evidence photos from the case, as this investigation remains active. Released are photos of five weapons involved in the crime as well as photos of three locations involved including Residence Drive, Sumter Avenue, and Club Blu on Evans Avenue. All three locations are in Fort Myers.
If you have any information on the weapons, locations, or events of that night, there are two numbers you can call. Tips can be provided to the State Attorney’s Office Cold Case Homicide Unit Tip Line: 1-833-987-2611 as well as Crime Stoppers:1-800-780-TIPS.
Five people have been arrested for their role in a mass shooting that killed two Fort Myers teens and wounded 20 others on July 25, 2016.
Operation Club Blu, a joint operation among the Fort Myers Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney's Office, and the FBI, today announced the arrest of Derrick Church, Tajze Battle, Don Loggins, Demetrius O’Neal, and Kierra Russ. They are facing two counts of second-degree murder, punishable by life in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder, a second-degree felony.
This is still an active investigation and more arrests are expected.
Please contact law enforcement if you have any information.
A promising high school basketball player, 18-year-old Stef'an Strawder from Lehigh Senior High School, and 14-year-old Sean Archilles, who would have been an 8th grader at Royal Palm Exceptional Center, were shot and killed outside Club Blu, 3580 Evans. Ave., during a teen night. Twenty others were wounded as they tried to escape the gunfire.
According to Lee Memorial Hospital, shooting victims ranged in age from 12 to 27. Sixteen people were treated in the trauma center and emergency department.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 2 dead, 20 wounded at Fort Myers club shooting
As investigators processed the scene, there were at least two dozen evidence markers indicating shell casings on the ground outside of the Club Blu Bar and Grill.
Fort Myers police say two other scenes are connected with this incident. One is 2550 Parkway Street where a gunman shot at homes and vehicles. One person suffered minor injuries at that location. A witness told our crew that someone in a black Honda SUV was shooting randomly from the vehicle at the homes along the road. Our crew observed at least thirty shell casings in that area as several law enforcement officers investigated that incident.
The other location is on Ortiz Avenue between Luckett Road and Ballard Road, where traffic was shut down as three persons of interest were detained in connection with the incident. All three have since bonded out of jail. Authorities questioned few others but have not arrested any official suspects in the shooting.
This is a developing story.