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14-year-old shot at Hillsborough's Mango apartments may not have been the target

MANGO — One teen told deputies he is being sought by a gunman who wanted revenge.

The other teen stuck close to home. He was shot while doing a simple chore: taking out the trash.

The bullets that struck 14-year-old Sauvallie Hagins may have been intended for the first teen, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

Investigators called it a case of the "wrong place, wrong time" for Sauvallie who remained in serious condition at Tampa General Hospital.

He was outside the Claymore Crossings apartments in Mango Monday night when someone in a car resembling a red Chevrolet Caprice Classic with large rims drove by and fired several shots.

Sauvallie, a student at Jennings Middle School, was hit three times. Investigators do not think he was the target.

Another teen, Davontae Davis, 16, has stepped forward saying he believes he was the intended victim, a scenario sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said was possible.

Shortly after the shooting Monday night, Davis told a Times reporter that he was released from jail on Sunday. He believes the shooter "thinks I robbed him," Davis said.

Investigators said Tuesday that Davis has cooperated, telling them he was outside the Crossings, where his mother lives, around 8:30 p.m., about the same time the shooting occurred.

Four shots were fired, witnesses told investigators, before the two attackers fled.

Tasha Hagins was in her apartment when she heard the gunfire.

Minutes before, her son had been watching cartoons with his youngest sister when he volunteered to take out the trash, a chore he normally had to be chided to do, his mother said.

She rushed outside to find her only son on the ground bleeding. The bullets pierced Sauvallie's stomach and groin. Another went through his leg. Neighbors rushed to help stop the bleeding.

"He was very calm," Hagins said. "I just kept telling him to be strong."

Just hours before, mother and son had attended a routine drug counseling class. Sauvallie had been caught with a marijuana cigarette.

"He's not a bad boy," Hagins said. "This was the first mistake he made."

Sauvallie's parents moved him and his three sisters to Claymore Crossings just over three months ago after they found an affordable four-bedroom apartment.

"I thought it was a nice neighborhood," said Hagins. Her husband is a custodian at Tampa Bay Tech High School.

The family moved from the Wexford Apartments, near the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. Tasha Hagins said that in 2007 a man with mental problems was accused of trying to grab children, including one of her daughters, as they were all playing outside the complex.

But the move to the Crossings was more about space than safety. "We needed four bedrooms, so I thought Claymore was going to be a great place," Hagins said.

Monday's shooting is the second of the year at the apartments, which do not receive an unusual amount of deputies' attention, Carter said.

On Jan. 30, deputies found a 22-year-old man shot in the right foot and drugs on the ground. An 18 year-old was arrested.

The complex south of Hills­borough Avenue and east of Interstate 75 is clean, well-kept with plain buildings and maintenance workers in golf carts.

"It's usually pretty quiet," Kelly Winget, 20, said in her doorway Tuesday while holding her 15-month-old son, Alexander.

She moved in last week, picking the complex because it seemed fairly new and secure with rents that range between $684 for two bedrooms and $869 for four bedrooms.

Outside, teens skateboarded and hung out on the stairs joined by other teens and young adults who don't live at the complex but are drawn to it because many youth call it home.

The Jennings Middle School bus stops right outside the front entrance of the Crossings.

The shooting has rattled Sauvallie's classmates who live there.

"I feel scared," said Angelica Lebron, 13.

Friends described Sauvallie, nicknamed "Booloo," as an entertaining flirt who rarely went outside except to do chores.

"He's friendly," said Valeesia Walsh, 14. "He's sweet. He's never mad, never sad."

On Monday night after the shooting, an apartment window could be seen shot out. A Honda Accord in the parking lot sported a bullet hole.

Nearby, a leaking trash bag could be seen on the pavement.

Times staff writers Elisabeth Parker and Drew Harwell contributed to this report. Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

14-year-old shot at Hillsborough's Mango apartments may not have been the target 02/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 9:09am]
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