Sunday, May 27, 2018
Public safety

East Tampa man killed during robbery attempt

TAMPA — Hours before he was killed, Jarrett Eitson got a call from his little sister asking if he had plans to return to their shared apartment.

"He said, 'Yeah. I'm coming home,'" Jazmine Eitson, 20, remembers.

It wasn't until early Saturday morning, after a flurry of phone calls from friends and Hillsborough County sheriff's detectives, that Jazmine Eitson believed he wasn't going to walk through the door.

Investigators said Jarret Eitson, 21, left Essence, a bar near 56th Street and Harney Road, with two friends just after midnight. They were approached by two armed men who tried to rob the group.

It was then, Jazmine Eitson said deputies told her, that her brother was shot multiple times.

He died at the scene. His friends were not injured. Deputies did not identify them because they are witnesses to the killing.

"He didn't have any money, so you're going to shoot him?" Jazmine Eitson said. "It didn't seem necessary — especially since they shot him three times."

The suspects were last seen driving a black or dark blue late 1990s or early 2000s sedan with tinted windows.

Jarret Eitson's death cut short a family reconnecting.

Jazmine Eitson, a Caribbean Cruise Line employee, said she moved to Tampa in January to reconnect with her big brother before she begins basic training for the U.S. Army. It was the first time they had lived in the same place since he left Gallatin, Tenn., at age 18.

The Eitsons' mother died a few months before he left town. Jazmine Eitson said her brother had lived in several states, including New Jersey, before landing in Tampa two years ago. He'd worked several jobs — like CiCi's Pizza and Publix — but this month he was unemployed and searching for something that fit him.

He kept a neat apartment in the Sabal Park complex on E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., just east of U.S. Highway 301.

The well worn couches that blended into the carpet face an entertainment system covered in speakers and Xbox 360 video games. In the previous weeks he'd been applying for jobs nonstop, his sister said. Adorning his wall was a framed handwritten letter from his grandmother, Martha Pullen.

"Grandson, Life is great. Life is short. Life is complicated," the letter began.

It urged him to make the right decisions and strive for the best.

"He was just trying to keep his promise," Jazmine Eitson said as she cried Saturday afternoon. "He promised he was coming home."

Anyone with information about this case can call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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