Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Teenage shooting victim remembered as family oriented, athletic

ST. PETERSBURG — Carl Lee Martin was remembered on Christmas Eve by friends and neighbors as a good athlete and someone who made others smile.

Martin, 15, died Thursday night when Demontray Lovett, 18, of St. Petersburg accidently fired a .40-caliber handgun from the back seat of a stolen minivan, St. Petersburg police said. The bullet went through the right front passenger seat and hit Martin in the torso. Lovett and Martin were part of a group of five people in the van headed for St. Pete Beach, investigators said.

Authorities found Martin's body late Thursday inside the van parked in an alley behind 626 23rd Ave. S after being called about the vehicle.

Lovett was arrested Friday night and remained jailed Saturday on aggravated manslaughter and weapons charges.

On Saturday, many neighbors at the Citrus Grove Apartments on 15th Street S, where Martin lived with his mother and siblings, were solemn.

"He was a good person. He made everybody laugh," said neighbor Melanee Rogers.

Martin, she said, was very close to his family and often played football with his younger siblings.

Martin's Facebook page was filled Saturday with messages from friends who said they will miss him and that life can change so fast. He attended Pinellas Secondary School.

"He was one of the older guys I would see telling younger ones to do what's right," said James Smith, a pastor at Campbell Park Community Church who led a basketball outreach program that included Martin.

About 20 kids, ages 10 to 15, met twice a week to play basketball and talk about life and God. Though he was known to be an avid football player and was on a team when he was younger, Martin also excelled at basketball.

"There wasn't too much that he couldn't do. He definitely was a quick learner," Smith said. "This is something tough to go through anyway, but this time of year it's very hard."

In May, Martin was charged with robbery but the case was later dropped, state records show.

Lovett came to the basketball outreach at Campbell Park Recreation Center a few times but not as regularly as Martin, Smith said.

Less than 2 miles from Martin's home, residents at the Courtyard Apartments on 15th Avenue S said they were surprised that a neighbor was accused of accidentally shooting Martin.

"It was a mistake. His friend lost his life. It wasn't like an 'I hate you thing,' " Herman Lassiter said.

Lovett, who came to the complex a few months ago, lives alone, didn't cause any trouble, and had frequent visits from his mother, Lassiter said.

"It kind of touched me because it makes me think about my 13-year-old and how devastated I would be if anything like this happened to him," said Lavern Samuel. "A gun will get you into trouble."

Lovett has six prior arrests as a juvenile, including trespassing, resisting arrest, vehicle theft, prowling, attempted burglary and battery, state records show. Most of those charges were dropped or dismissed, and adjudication was withheld on the burglary and battery charges.

Times researcher Tim Rozgonyi contributed to this report. Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at (727) 409-3642 or

Teenage shooting victim remembered as family oriented, athletic 12/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 24, 2011 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Work, threats continue as Hernando recovers from Irma

    Local Government


    Hurricane Irma's fierce winds are becoming a memory, but the water the storm left behind has become a real threat on Hernando's east side.

    This aerial drone view shows flooding on the Withlacoochee River in the Talisman Estates area of east Hernando, south of Ridge Manor. The river is about 6 feet above flood stage, and its floodwaters are not expected to recede for days.
  2. Forecast: Dry air, hot temperatures remain in control across Tampa Bay


    Dry but hot weather will continue Thursday across Tampa Bay with only a 20 percent chance of showers forecast for the afternoon.

    7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Amber Alert issued for Bradenton siblings taken by their mother

    Public Safety

    An Amber Alert has been issued for four Bradenton siblings who were taken by their mother, who does not have custody of the children.

    An Amber Alert has been issued for four Bradenton siblings who were taken by their mother, who does not have custody of the children. [Florida Department of Law Enforcement]

  4. Worker critically injured after falling off truck in Clearwater


    A Zephyrhills man was critically injured early Thursday morning when he fell off the back of a road construction vehicle.

  5. Electricity poles and lines lay toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Press]