Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Witnesses recall chaos at fatal Riverview graduation party

TAMPA — At the 2010 high school graduation party in Riverview, the kids had guns and the chaperones had guns. When the shooting started at 1 a.m., "we hit the dirt," student Ashley Dean recalled Tuesday in court.

"It seemed like shots came from everywhere."

One senior lay dead, and another student and parent were wounded.

A jury is trying to find its way through the chaos of that night. Only one youth is standing trial. Khayri McCray, now 19, originally was accused of murder, but that charge was dropped. He now faces three counts of attempted murder.

Tuesday, jurors heard conflicting testimony as to how Devante Dallas, 18, a senior celebrating his graduation from Durant High School, died from a bullet to his chest and how others were wounded.

Dallas' cousin said he saw McCray and a second gunman with dreadlocks each fire. A chaperone identified McCray as the shooter. Some others said they saw only the youth with dreadlocks firing rounds. Another chaperone admitted firing his own gun at a fleeing car.

Everyone agrees that the trouble started with a fist fight during a mobbed party at the Winthrop Barn and Theater on May 23, 2010. McCray, a student from Spoto High School, was said to have suffered a cut over his nose. Chaperones had checked everyone in the barn for guns, but apparently there were plenty of weapons in cars.

Chaperone George Bianco, who said he is a former military counter-terrorism expert, testified that he wore his own .40-caliber pistol that night, but it never left his holster.

After the fist fight spilled outside, Bianco said, he heard gunfire from a field next to the Barn. He saw kids running. A white car sped past, he said, nearly hitting him, and stopped outside the barn.

Bianco said he saw McCray lean across the car roof and fire three shots toward the crowd.

"There was no hesitation."

He said the white car then sped away. He chased McCray through parked cars. The white car came back, he said, and McCray jumped through a passenger window.

Bianco found Dallas dying. He said he held Dallas and begged, "Hang on! Hang on!"

Junior Hernandez, a second armed chaperone, was inside the hall and didn't see Dallas shot but heard gunfire. When he got outside, he said, he saw someone with a gun leap through the window of a fleeing car. The chaperone pulled out his own pistol and fired twice.

Others said they witnessed gunfire, but not as the chaperones described.

Jermonte Hugee, 19, Dallas' cousin, said he and Dallas had been cornered by six young people on the side of the barn.

One was McCray, who had been part of the fighting inside. Hugee said McCray and a young man with dreadlocks had returned, each with a gun. The guy in dreadlocks fired first. Hugee said the bullet just missed him. Then he saw McCray fire. Dallas had been shot, but Hugee said, "I don't know whose bullets hit who."

He didn't see a white car or see McCray fire into the crowd.

Students Ashley Dean and Alia Corso offered another version. After the fight started, they said McCray and the guy with dreadlocks hurried to the car. They said the person with dreadlocks got a gun and began firing toward the barn.

But after the first shots, they said gunfire erupted everywhere. They dove into their car and kept their heads down. They never saw McCray with a gun. "I thought I would die," Corso said.

CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly characterized Jermonte Hugee's recollection of Khayri McCray's involvement and gave the wrong last name for the victim.

Witnesses recall chaos at fatal Riverview graduation party 03/06/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 8:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Mulberry teens, 15 and 18, killed when cars collide at Plant City intersection

    Accidents

    MULBERRY — The local high school has an enrollment of 1,000 but to some it feels like a tight-knit family. Many of Mulberry High School's students have spent all of their school days within the city limits, said principal Michael Young.

    Pepe Salgado, 18, was killed Friday along with his sister Frinzi Salgado-Diaz, 15, in a car crash in Plant City. They were passengers in a car driven by their cousin Edilberto Nava-Marcos, 18, who was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center and was listed in critical condition. All three lived in Mulberry and attended Mulberry High School. [Polk County School District]
  2. Assisted living facility owner accused of sexually assaulting employee in Pinellas

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — An assisted living facility owner was arrested Thursday on charges that he sexually assaulted an employee, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

  3. Find serenity at Grand Cayman Island's Cemetery Beach

    Travel

    GRAND CAYMAN ISLAND

    Hey, cruisers, if you've been to Hell and back, snuggled with the stingrays and taken photos with the turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre, you might be looking for something different on your next trip. (Guilty!)

    Good snorkeling can be found off shore at Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman.
  4. Editorial: Honoring a solemn sacrifice

    Editorials

    For a nation still slogging away in Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones across the globe, this Memorial Day holiday marks the latest commemoration of sacrifice abroad, of uncertainty over America's role in securing the globe and of the country's great debt to its military families. The peace of yesterday is almost …

  5. Four Brandon middle school students face child porn charges related to sex video

    Crime

    BRANDON — Four Burns Middle School students, ages 12 to 14, have been arrested on child pornography charges after one secretly recorded a girl in a sex act and the others posted it online, authorities said Friday.