TAMPA — Nearly a month after a 17-year-old was fatally shot while driving on Interstate 4, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has arrested three people in connection to the rush-hour shooting.
Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the arrests in a press conference Monday afternoon, putting to rest concerns from the public that the fatal Aug. 24 shooting is connected to a string of at least four other the fatal shootings to break out on Hillsborough County’s highways since June.
Chronister said that Ta’Zion “Bibby” Levison’s death was simply the result of “some type of beef” between the victim and two brothers: 20-year-old Jaris Dequan Youngblood Jr. and 22-year-old Jarkese Nicholas Youngblood.
That quarrel came to an end just before 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 24, as the elder Youngblood brother drove his girlfriend, 19-year-old Sha’Quandra Clarnique Williams, his brother, and his girlfriend’s one-year-old son on the eastbound lanes of I-4.
Dozens of drivers frantically called 911 that afternoon to report seeing someone in a gold Ford Taurus shooting out the window at another vehicle while speeding down the interstate, Chronister said.
Williams was holding her infant son in her lap in the front passenger seat, Chronister said, yelling at her boyfriend’s brother to “watch out for the baby,” as he fired rounds from the backseat window.
According to the arrest report, Levison was riding as a passenger in the other vehicle with two friends when he was struck in the torso during the gunfire. His friends drove him to South Florida Baptist Hospital in Plant City, where he died from his injuries.
“There’s no doubt because of the speed the number of cars on Interstate 4, if the victims were to have lost control of that car and struck other cars and stated a chain reaction this tragic day could have turned into a catastrophic day,” Chronister said.
Days after the shooting, Williams and her boyfriend wiped down his Taurus with bleach and sold it to a scrap metal yard in Osceola County in hopes of hiding any remaining evidence, Chronister said.
“The Youngblood brothers not only worked together to kill the teenage victim, they showed no regard for the other innocent drivers on I-4 or even for the infant child who was riding in the car with them,” Chronister said.
Jaris Youngblood Jr. was arrested in Tampa on Saturday and faces felony charges of premeditated first degree murder with a firearm, shooting into a vehicle and tampering with evidence.
Deputies found his brother, Jarkese Youngblood, in the Osceola County jail, where he was being held on an unrelated second-degree murder warrant issued by the Tampa Police Department. Now he also faces charges of being a principal to premeditated first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
Williams turned herself in Saturday at Orient Road Jail. She faces a charge of tampering with evidence, Chronister said.
The shooting is one of three that occurred along I-4, and two others on Interstate 75 in recent months. But ballistics testing performed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that the Aug. 24 shooting was not connected to others that occurred this summer.
Detectives believe that the I-4 shooting may have been linked to an ongoing neighborhood and online feud between a group of people around the the Plant City area.