A Tampa woman is facing a murder charge after a person she tried to lure into a robbery through a dating app shot and killed her brother in self defense, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s officials said.
Tat’yana Mekeva Gaston, 23, was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree murder in connection with the May 31 shooting, according to court documents. Gaston was released from the Hillsborough County jail the day of her arrest after she posted $15,000 bail, records show.
Police say Gaston matched with a person on the dating app BLK posing as a 22-year-old woman named “Jada.” She asked the person, who is not named in court records, to meet her at Kain Palms Apartments, where her brother, Jermon Kennard, 18, was waiting nearby to rob the person, the records state.
When a masked Kennard threatened the person with a knife, he shot Kennard with a gun that was concealed in his waistband. Kennard was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died of gunshot wounds to his head and chest, records state.
Gaston later told police she thought her brother was going outside to sell someone an iPhone 13. She said she went outside the apartment complex to check on him and saw a male she didn’t know walking away from a gray Nissan Altima parked near the building. She couldn’t find her brother and heard five gunshots. She identified the male as “the boy” who killed her brother.
Police contradicted Gaston’s story with text messages they said they found showing she had asked her brother to come outside quickly before the person arrived.
Nearby motion sensor cameras captured the robbery and placed Kennard and Gaston at the scene, according to police. However, the knife was not visible in the footage, and the shooting was not captured on video.
Even though she didn’t pull the trigger, Gaston is still charged in her brother’s death because of a Florida statute that says when a person is killed in a felony or in an attempted felony, such as a robbery, anyone involved in the crime can be charged with murder.
Kennard was finishing his senior year of high school at Carver Exceptional Center, according to his obituary. He celebrated his 18th birthday in April.