WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - A teenage high school student who was found dead near a trail along Lake Conine in Winter Haven was shot multiple times, according to autopsy results. Police said an intensive search is underway for clues into the death of 18-year old Alicia Barnett.
Students attending New Beginning High School, where Barnett attended, were stunned to learn that their classmate had been killed.
"It's just kind of messed up to see some young lady walking down the trail and all of a sudden they just get shot at," said Laura Hendley, an 11th grader at New Beginnings.
"I know a lot of people are taking it pretty hard because she was really popular," Hendley said.
40 police officers and volunteers fanned out along the brush near the Lake Conine Canal Bridge. Using pitchforks and machetes, they poked and hacked their way through the weeds and grass hoping to find any clues about what led to the Barnett's death.
Divers from the Polk County Sheriff's Office combed through the murky canal, only surfacing sunken driftwood and pieces of trash.
"We're following up every lead. We are constantly getting leads," said Jamie Brown, the Winter Haven police spokeswoman.
"We've actually offered a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the killer," Brown said.
It's not clear if Barnett was the victim of a random attack, or if she was targeted. Either way, police are concerned that the suspect or suspects remain at large.
Barnett's family was notified about the killing by police, and officers said relatives were devastated by the teenager's death.
"They are very distraught at this point," Brown said. "They're trying to wrap their head around it, and as a parent, I can only imagine that it's something you can't wrap your head around."
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Plenty of sunshine with high humidity, but low chances for an afternoon shower or storm inland.