Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Public safety

Zephyrhills High School student killed in Wesley Chapel neighborhood

WESLEY CHAPEL — Tuvarrion Sirmons had walked away from the argument.

The 16-year-old wasn't looking for a fight, family members said Saturday. But, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Cleave Gittens was.

Sirmons of Zephyrhills was visiting a friend Friday afternoon in the Wesley Chapel subdivision of Meadow Pointe when he exchanged words with Gittens, 18, who lives nearby, said Sirmons' aunt, June Dawson.

Sirmons and a friend left, walking to the nearby Meadow Pointe II clubhouse, Dawson said.

Gittens, armed with a knife, followed.

There, Gittens tried to engage Sirmons in a fight, a witness told deputies, throwing rocks and saying he would "kill him."

When Sirmons tried to grab Gittens' arms, Gittens stabbed him twice, deputies said.

Sirmons, who didn't have a weapon, later died of his injuries.

Gittens left and threw the knife into a wooded area, deputies said. He was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder. He was being held Saturday at the Land O'Lakes jail on $100,000 bond.

Gittens has several past arrests and convictions, including possession of a weapon and marijuana, according to state records.

Sirmons was a sophomore at Zephyrhills High School. A crisis team will be at the school Monday, the Sheriff's Office said.

A motive for the attack has not been released.

"What the argument was about hasn't been made clear," Dawson said. "We don't know why this happened. He was a good kid."

Sirmons lived with his mother in an apartment in Zephyrhills but often spent time with friends in Wesley Chapel, Dawson said. He skipped school Friday, Dawson said, but planned to be home for a family bonfire that night.

"We had all talked about getting together," said Dawson, who lives next to Sirmons' mother. "He loved being with his family."

Sirmons often served as the entertainment, cracking jokes and making people laugh, Dawson said.

"He went three days once where he tried to turn everything he said into a freestyle rap," she said. "Just to be funny."

News researcher Tim Rozgonyi and staff writer John Woodrow Cox contributed to this story. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.

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