Polk County homicide detectives have arrested two 16-year-old suspects in the homicide of 17-year-old Taigur Taguri.
Both suspects, Jevon Berrien, Jr. and Margus Johnson, both 16, have been charged with first-degree murder, along with other felonies. At least two other suspects are still at large.
Based upon interviews with witnesses, suspects, and others, and evidence collected so far in the investigation, at around 9:40 p.m. on Monday, June 7, Taguri drove to Gordon Heights Park near Bartow with the intention of selling marijuana to someone with whom he was communicating on social media. He was accompanied by a female.
When Taguri arrived at the park, he stopped his truck. Several unknown black male suspects approached the truck. One suspect opened the driver’s door, and another suspect opened the passenger side door. During this time Taguri was heard saying “no” and “don’t.” Multiple shots were fired at Taguri by both suspects. The passenger was not injured. A total of 3 to 4 suspects are believed to be involved.
After being shot, Taguri accelerated, and the truck crashed into a fence then came to a stop against some playground equipment. The suspects fled in an unknown direction. The passenger called 911 and another witness in the area called 911. When first responders arrived on-scene, Taguri was deceased.
During the investigation, detectives gathered evidence including spent shell casings at the scene, and searched social media channels for any communication between the victim and others. Detectives discovered and were provided with several names of people with whom Taguri had been communicating on social media – one of those people was tentatively identified as 16-year-old Jevon Berrien, Jr., who lives on Gause Street in Bartow.
Detectives responded to the residence, and interviewed Berrien. Detectives also found 16-year-old Margus Johnson hiding in the home, unbeknownst to some in the family who were in the home. During a search of the residence, detectives found a loaded Glock 9 mm handgun in Berrien’s room. The gun and casings found at the scene were taken to the Florida Department of Education lab for testing. FDLE confirmed that the shell casings found at the scene matched the handgun and ammunition that was submitted for testing. Detectives also found numerous pieces of drug paraphernalia, including a grinder, scale, and glass jar, all containing marijuana residue and a burnt marijuana cigar in Berrien Jr.’s room.
Berrien, Jr. was charged with first degree murder, attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, unlawful possession by a minor of a firearm, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia (m1)
Berrien has previous arrests for robbery by sudden snatching and battery domestic violence.
Johnson was charged with first degree murder, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
During the search of Berrien’s home, detectives found another loaded firearm in 47-year-old Jevon Berrien sr.’s room, along with a large red container of methamphetamine, and several items of drug paraphernalia. Inside Berrien Sr.’s car, detectives found a camera bag with a digital scale, multiple plastic baggies, and individually packaged baggies of marijuana. A lunchbox contained another digital scale and a gallon-sized bag of marijuana.
Berrien, sr., was placed under arrest and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of paraphernalia.
Berrien Sr.’s criminal history includes three arrests in Georgia (trafficking in cocaine, drug sales, violation of controlled substance act); an arrest in Oklahoma (DUI); and seven felonies and four misdemeanors in Florida (possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of synthetic marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, DWLSR, failure to appear, probation violation, non-payment of child support) including a felony conviction.
There are at least two more suspects at large and detectives are searching for them. There is a $5,000 reward for information.
If you have any information about this investigation and wish to remain anonymous, contact Heartland Crime Stoppers - call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477), dial **TIPS from your cell phone, visit the www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on "Submit A Tip," or download the free "P3tips" app on your smartphone or tablet.