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Plant City man accused of hiding gun from fatal shootout

DOVER — Deputies have arrested a 20-year-old Plant City man who they say hid a gun used in a June 17 shooting that ended with the death of a "Dover Locos" gang member.

Jesse Rodarte faces a charge of tampering with physical evidence. He was arrested at his house Wednesday.

The shooting happened early on a Sunday when Rodarte and two cousins — Pedro Hernandez and Jose Hernandez, both 22 — drove past a house party at 3418 Lindsey St. From the car, deputies say, Pedro Hernandez fired a handgun.

Jose Navarro, 29, who lives at the home, returned fire with a shotgun, hitting Jose Hernandez in the head, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Hernandez died the next day at Tampa General Hospital.

Authorities say the Hernandez cousins are known as members of the "Dover Locos" gang. Numerous people at the party were "Sur 13" gang members, authorities said.

Pedro Hernandez was previously charged with second-degree murder. The state's felony murder rule allows an accomplice to be charged with murder if someone is killed during the commission of a felony.

Navarro has not been charged. Deputies say the investigation is ongoing.

During a recorded interview, deputies say, Pedro Hernandez told detectives he gave the small, black .40-caliber firearm to Rodarte. In a separate interview, Rodarte said he had taken the gun and tossed it into a drainage ditch near Burchwood Park, the Sheriff's Office said.

Rodarte agreed to show detectives the area where he disposed of the firearm, but when he took them to the ditch on the southwest corner of W Reynolds Street and Drake Street in Plant City, deputies didn't find the gun.

Instead, on Sunday, deputies learned the gun was in a pond in the area of N Oak Avenue, east of Walter Drive in Plant City.

On Tuesday, Sheriff's Office divers went into the pound and found a .40-caliber Glock handgun, which they sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Plant City man accused of hiding gun from fatal shootout 06/28/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 28, 2012 10:09pm]
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