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Tampa judge sets $2.5 million bond for father accused of shooting children

Prosecutors had asked a judge to order Jermaine Bass to be held without bond until his trial.
Hillsborough County deputies work at the scene of a shooting at Armature Gate Townhomes in Tampa on Monday. Prosecutors say Jermaine Bass shot his two children, killing his 5-year-old daughter and critically injuring his 8-year-old son. A judge on Friday set Bass' bond at $2.5 million.
Hillsborough County deputies work at the scene of a shooting at Armature Gate Townhomes in Tampa on Monday. Prosecutors say Jermaine Bass shot his two children, killing his 5-year-old daughter and critically injuring his 8-year-old son. A judge on Friday set Bass' bond at $2.5 million. [ Bay News 9 ]
Published Sep. 2|Updated Sep. 2

TAMPA — A judge on Friday set a $2.5 million bond for a Tampa father accused of shooting his two children.

Hillsborough deputies arrested Jermaine Lavanda Bass, 30, on Monday, after investigators determined he fatally shot his 5-year-old daughter, Jaylah Bass, and critically injured his 8-year-old son, Jermaine Bass, according to records and testimony.

During a hearing Friday, prosecutors asked Circuit Judge Catherine Catlin to order Bass to be held without bond until his trial.

Instead, Catlin set Bass’ bond at $2.5 million. If he were to make bail, he would be on house arrest, Catlin said.

Jermaine Lavanda Bass, 30, was arrested on charges of first degree murder with a firearm, attempted first degree murder with a firearm and aggravated child abuse after deputies said he shot his 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son at the family's Tampa home on Aug. 29, 2022. The girl died and and the boy was listed in critical condition.
Jermaine Lavanda Bass, 30, was arrested on charges of first degree murder with a firearm, attempted first degree murder with a firearm and aggravated child abuse after deputies said he shot his 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son at the family's Tampa home on Aug. 29, 2022. The girl died and and the boy was listed in critical condition. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]

Deputies arrived at the Armature Gate Townhomes on Monday night and found Jermaine Bass holding his son, who was bleeding from his head, Hillsborough County sheriff’s Detective Michael Gabot testified during Friday’s hearing. Jaylah was found upstairs bleeding in her bunk bed.

Both children were taken to Tampa General Hospital. Jaylah died at the hospital, and Jermaine was still there in stable condition as of Friday.

Jermaine Bass was alone with the children when the two were shot, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Bass later said the shooting was an accident that happened when he was trying to remove the magazine from the firearm.

“The accident doesn’t explain five rounds being fired into two different children, that are on two different bunks,” Gabot said during the hearing.

Gabot said that Shirley Bass — the children’s mother and Bass’ wife — told investigators she didn’t know what would lead Bass to shoot the children.

Bass is facing a first-degree murder charge, an attempted murder charge and aggravated child abuse charge. He is being represented by the Hillsborough County Public Defender’s Office, which waived his appearance at Friday’s hearing.

In a motion for pretrial detention filed by the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, prosecutors said there is substantial probability that Bass would be a danger to society based on his “past and present patterns of behavior” and that he committed a dangerous crime.

“Make no mistake, this man is charged with something that I consider the worst of the worst,” Catlin said Friday.

However, the judge said prosecutors failed to show that Bass had a previous pattern of criminal behavior. Bass has no prior involvement with law enforcement other than a misdemeanor charge of violating Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rules, Assistant State Attorney Ron Gale said Friday.

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“When the State Attorney’s Office files a motion that says that this is based on the defendant’s past and present pattern of behavior, they better prove it,” Catlin said. “Don’t put that in a motion if you’re not going to prove it. It’s disingenuous.”

As of Friday afternoon, Bass was still being held in jail, records show.

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