A 15-year-old “self-described gang member” who crashed a party in Oak Hill and shot the homeowner and paralyzed him is charged as an adult, according to a prosecutor’s press release.
James “Budha” Powell of Port Orange has been charged with two first-degree murder attempts with a gun. If Powell is convicted he will face life in prison, but since he is a teenager his sentence will need to be reviewed.
In the first count, Powell is alleged to have shot and killed 47-year-old Joel Tatro, who was throwing a party for his high school kids at his Oak Hill home on 100 block off East Church Street
The second first-degree attempted murder is due to Powell shooting three to five times into the crowd after the shooting at Tatro, although luckily no one was hit, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in an interview Tuesday.
“After he fired and the father went under, he opened fire on the crowd, on the children who are there,” Chitwood said.
Powell’s first appearance on the new charges is expected to take place on Wednesday at the Volusia County Branch Jail.
“I think it became painfully obvious that there was only one way to go, and that was to charge this little thug on two charges of attempted first degree murder,” Chitwood said.
The shooting took place around 1:00 a.m. on February 17, and Powell reported to Daytona Beach police on February 20.
[READ MORE: Oak Hill shooting suspect a “self-described gang member,” sheriff says.]
[Family of paralyzed Oak Hill shooting victim hires attorney to find out how teen got gun.]
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether Powell’s accomplice, 17-year-old Sylvano Leslie II, should be charged as an adult. Leslie accompanied Powell to the party and acted as a getaway driver, Chitwood previously said.
“According to witnesses, (the shooter) says, ‘You don’t know who you’re messing with. I’ll kill you (explicitly deleted), ”Chitwood said in an earlier interview with The News-Journal. “Then he pulls out a gun and shoots him.”
MPs said Tatro had told the youth to go.
“(Tatro) told them,” Number one, the party’s over and number two, we don’t know you guys, “Chitwood said.
Powell pushed Tatro, who pushed back, and then Powell swore at him and then shot him, according to the sheriff’s office.
Powell has said he is part of the “4K Gang,” which Chitwood identified as a small local gang of young villains who broke into vehicles and committed theft in southeastern Volusia and northern Brevard County.
Tatro’s children are New Smyrna Beach High School students along with the two arrested suspects, Chitwood said.
The sheriff said the gun used in the shooting had not been recovered. He says the gun was probably taken from one of the car thefts while he was speculating.
The gunshot wound, paralysis, and medical complications will shorten Tatro’s life, Chitwood said.
“If our victim survives, it will be paralyzed from the neck down,” said Chitwood. “He’s still in a fight for his life. And it will always be a fight.”
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