Dense Fog Advisory issued March 6 at 3:37AM EST expiring March 6 at 10:00AM EST in effect for: DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Pinellas, Polk
Manatee County deputies have arrested a suspect in the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old girl.
Jasper Dudley, 19, of Bradenton was arrested in the death of Teri Rawls, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday night.
Frank Brice, 19, of Palmetto, who is also suspected in the shooting, remained at large Monday night.
Rawls was shot about 2 a.m. Monday in a parking lot near the Royal Palms Theatre in Oneco, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies said the shooting did not involve the theater, and the large parking lot is a popular gathering spot for young people.
The high school junior and member of the cheerleading squad was with a group of people when an argument broke out and gunfire followed. Investigators have not described in detail how the shooting unfolded.
For cheerleaders at Riverview High School, losing Rawls was close to losing a sister.
"I think all of us were in shock, and I didn't want to believe it," said Sabrina Charlotte, co-captain of the cheerleading team. "I didn't want to believe that someone who we cared so much about we weren't going to see again."
Deputies said Rawls' friends tried to take her to the hospital, but a state trooper pulled over the car after it was riding erratically on U.S. 301 near 57th street in Sarasota County. Rawls was pronounced dead at the scene.
"When it was confirmed I broke down and cried," said Amy Earl, Riverview cheerleading coach. "It's awful. She had a whole life ahead of her."
Grief counselors were on hand at the high school for much of the day Monday, and as many as 30 friends and relatives showed up, according to assistant principal Melanin Dunham.
In addition to helping kids deal with the sadness of losing a student, Dunham said they tried to quell any anger that resulted from the shooting.
"We're just trying to tell the to take the high road," Dunham said. "Make sure they don't make any revengeful mistakes to try and get back at whoever did this."
Rawls was expected to be a key member of the cheerleading team during the upcoming school year.
"It just makes me heartbroken that this was her ending," said Lindsy Maglich, a senior and co-captain of the cheerleading team. "She didn't get to cheer on varsity. But I think that she'll always be with us."
It's not the first time a cheerleader from Riverview High School has been shot. In 2011, Naomi Clyburn was murdered in a drive-by shooting a couple of years after she became the first black student to make the cheerleading team.
Friends and relatives gathered Monday night to build a memorial for Rawls.
“It could have easily been any one of my two daughters,” said Octavious Cummings, who said two of his daughters were with Rawls. “Thank God it wasn’t.”
He thinks if a parent had intervened in the lives of the suspects, Rawls might have been at the first cheerleading practice Thursday.
“We can burn candles,” he said. “We can sit out here and protest. But if you are not taking it back to your home, if you are not taking your children back from the streets, it’s going to continue.”