Prosecutors have filed a formal charge against the suspect arrested in last month’s shooting in Ybor City that killed two and left 15 others wounded by gunfire.
The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office on Friday filed a charge of second-degree murder with a firearm against Tyrell Phillips, 22, of Tampa, records show. The charge is a first-degree felony in Florida punishable by up to life in prison.
The name of the victim is redacted in the document due to Marsy’s Law, but the Tampa Bay Times has previously reported that Phillips had been arrested in the death of 14-year-old Elijah Wilson.
Police have only released the ages of the people who died but have confirmed the 14-year-old victim died at the scene and a 20-year-old man died at a local hospital. Court documents say the person Phillips shot died at the scene.
Elijah Wilson’s family has identified him as the teen killed in the shooting.
According to court documents, Phillips told police that he got into a confrontation with another group of people on Seventh Avenue early on Oct. 29 and that he opened fire because he feared for his safety. Phillips said a group of men confronted him after he waved to a woman he knew from school, and that one of the men reached for his waistband.
Video from the scene shows Wilson approaching Phillips and his group with his arms raised, and as Wilson begins to lower his arms, Phillips draws his weapon and fires at him. The video does not show Wilson reaching for or drawing a gun, according to an arrest affidavit and pretrial detention motion filed in the case, and Phillips told police that the person he is seen shooting in the video is not the person he saw reaching for his waistband.
Phillips told police he estimated he fired two shots, then started running to the north and heard more gunshots coming from behind him.
Police found a loaded gun in Wilson’s waistband but the weapon was still holstered, according to the motion.
Phillips pleaded not guilty last week. He has also hired a private attorney, David Parry, who did not immediately return a message left at his office on Monday.
Prosecutors have filed a motion asking a judge to order Phillips to be held in jail pending trial, arguing he is a danger to the community. A hearing on that motion was postponed last week, and the Hillsborough Clerk of Court website is not showing that it has been rescheduled. An arraignment has been set for Nov. 28.
In addition to the two deaths, 15 people were injured by gunfire when the shooting started around 2:45 a.m. on Seventh Avenue while the street was still packed with people, many in Halloween costumes. Police said last week that investigators believe at least two other people opened fire after Phillips started shooting.
It’s unclear if Phillips could face more charges in connection to the shooting. A spokesperson for the state attorney’s office referred questions to the Tampa Police Department. A Tampa police spokesperson said in an email Monday that detectives are still reviewing evidence to identify the other shooters, determine how they were involved and decide whether more charges could be forthcoming in the case.
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The family of Harrison Boonstoppel has confirmed the Tampa man was the other person killed in the shooting. His mother said at a vigil last week that her son was shot three times.
The police department has partnered with the FBI to create a website where the public can submit tips, photos and video.