Advertisement

Court documents shed light on evidence against Ybor City shooting suspects

Kadyn Abney, 14, and Dwayne Tillman Jr, 21, returned fire after Tyrell Phillips shot 14-year-old Elijah Wilson on Oct. 29, court records state.
 
A street sweeper and city crews cleans Seventh Avenue in Ybor City as Tampa police investigators collect evidence at the scene of a shooting on Oct. 29 that left two dead and 15 injured by gunfire. Two suspects charged this week in the shooting were with the 14-year-old boy who was fatally shot that night, and both suspects fired back at the man accused of shooting the teen, records show.
A street sweeper and city crews cleans Seventh Avenue in Ybor City as Tampa police investigators collect evidence at the scene of a shooting on Oct. 29 that left two dead and 15 injured by gunfire. Two suspects charged this week in the shooting were with the 14-year-old boy who was fatally shot that night, and both suspects fired back at the man accused of shooting the teen, records show. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Dec. 8, 2023

Two suspects charged this week in October’s Ybor City shooting were with the 14-year-old boy who was fatally shot that night, and both suspects fired back at the man accused of shooting the teen, records show.

Court documents filed this week provide new details about evidence that led police to arrest Dwayne Eugene Tillman, Jr., 21, and Kadyn Abney, who is also 14, in connection to the Oct. 29 shooting that left two dead and 15 others injured by gunfire.

In a news conference Wednesday, Tampa police Chief Lee Bercaw announced new charges against Abney, who had already been arrested on a weapons charge in connection to the case, and said Abney was responsible for the death of 20-year-old Harrison Boonstoppel.

The next day, Bercaw held another news conference to announce that Tillman had been arrested on attempted murder and other charges. Bercaw provided few details about either case.

Motions filed by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office to keep Abney and Tillman in jail pending trial say that they were with 14-year-old Elijah Wilson that night and returned fire when Tyrell Phillips, 21, shot Wilson.

Gunfire broke out a little before 3 a.m. along Seventh Avenue, which was crowded with late-night revelers and club patrons. Wilson died at the scene. Boonstoppel was shot twice and later died at a hospital.

A member of Moms Demand Action holds up a poster bearing photos of Elijah Wilson, 14, and Harrison Boonstoppel, 20, during a vigil in Ybor City on Nov. 1. Wilson and Boonstoppel were fatally shot in Ybor on Oct. 29.
A member of Moms Demand Action holds up a poster bearing photos of Elijah Wilson, 14, and Harrison Boonstoppel, 20, during a vigil in Ybor City on Nov. 1. Wilson and Boonstoppel were fatally shot in Ybor on Oct. 29. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Phillips approached police minutes after the shooting and acknowledged his involvement. Some of his first words, a detective said during a court hearing last month were, “I fired in self-defense.” He was arrested and charged with second degree murder with a firearm in Wilson’s death.

Investigators found a gun in Wilson’s waistband but police and prosecutors said the video shows he was not an immediate threat to Phillips when Phillips fired.

According to the motions filed this week, investigators determined from surveillance and cell phone video that Abney and Tillman arrived in Ybor with Wilson that night. As they approached Phillips’ group, Abney put on a black and gray balaclava mask.

Surveillance video shows the fight between the two groups and Phillips shooting Wilson, according to the motions. Phillips and members of his group then ran east while Abney ran west onto the sidewalk between the front of Centro Ybor and the Tap House bar.

The video shows Abney “taking an obvious shooting stance and posture,” the motion states. “While in this stance, the defendant appears to discharge a firearm as at least four muzzle flashes are seen coming from the defendant, who has his arms extended.”

Want breaking news in your inbox?

Want breaking news in your inbox?

Subscribe to our free News Alerts newsletter

You’ll receive real-time updates on major issues and events in Tampa Bay and beyond as they happen.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

At one point Abney’s gun is blocked by a street sign but his arms are still visible and “appear consistent with continual shooting.”

“The defendant is seen shooting toward Phillips as Phillips and his associates, who are amongst the crowd of unrelated patrons and are also fleeing in the opposite direction,” the motion states.

Investigators found 11 spent 9mm shell casings in the area where the video shows Abney shooting. They also recovered three more 9mm casings in front of Centro Ybor’s common area, near a flowerbed. And they recovered six 40-caliber spent casings — three near the Tap House and three more along a Centro Ybor walkway.

Video shows Boonstoppel, who was not involved in the altercation or associated with either group, running away with the crowd, then falling. He begins to crawl, then falls again. He appears to have been first shot in the leg, then hit a second time.

The second round traveled up through the center of his body, piercing his heart, lung and liver. The round, which was recovered from his chest, was a 9mm bullet that had been fired by a Glock handgun, according to the motion.

Ballistics tests showed that the 11 9mm rounds found near where Abney was seen shooting were fired by a Glock or similar-style firearm.

The other three 9mm rounds recovered near the flowerbed were fired by a gun that was not a Glock.

“Based on the fact that four muzzle flashes are seen coming from the defendant’s shots,” the motion states, “it is only possible for the defendant to have fired the Glock firearm at the scene and therefore, the only one who was able to have fired the bullet into Mr. Boonstoppel, which led to Mr. Boonstoppel’s death.”

Police arrested Abney on Nov. 16 in West Palm Beach on charges of carrying a concealed firearm and illegally possessing a firearm as a minor while wearing a mask.

On Wednesday, Bercaw and Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez announced that prosecutors were tacking on charges of second degree murder with a firearm in Boonstoppel’s death, as well as attempted aggravated battery and attempted murder. A charging document lists Phillips as the victim in the battery and attempted murder charges.

Tampa police Chief Lee Bercaw speaks at a news conference held Wednesday to announce Kadyn Abney, 14, was being charged with second degree murder in the death of Harrison Boonstoppel. Standing behind Bercaw, from left, are Tampa police Maj. Patrick Messmer, Assistant Hillsborough State Attorney Justin Diaz, Hillsborough State Attorney Suzy Lopez and Boonstoppel's parents, Karel and Brucie.
Tampa police Chief Lee Bercaw speaks at a news conference held Wednesday to announce Kadyn Abney, 14, was being charged with second degree murder in the death of Harrison Boonstoppel. Standing behind Bercaw, from left, are Tampa police Maj. Patrick Messmer, Assistant Hillsborough State Attorney Justin Diaz, Hillsborough State Attorney Suzy Lopez and Boonstoppel's parents, Karel and Brucie. [ Courtesy of Tampa Police Department ]

According to the motion filed to keep Tillman in jail, video shows him running northwest for about 50 feet after Phillips opens fire. Then Tillman turns around and fires a handgun in Phillips’ direction as Phillips ran away. The video showed three muzzle flashes.

Investigators concluded the 9mm casings that were not fired by a Glock came from Tillman’s gun. Police arrested Tillman on Thursday on charges of attempted second degree murder with a firearm and attempted aggravated battery. Phillips is listed in a charging document as the victim for both charges.

The motions state that Wilson, Abney and Tillman are all associated with a “neighborhood group” known as NHC.

Dwayne Eugene Tillman Jr. is pictured in a Hillsborough County jail booking photo taken after his arrest on Thursday.
Dwayne Eugene Tillman Jr. is pictured in a Hillsborough County jail booking photo taken after his arrest on Thursday. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]

Abney is set to be arraigned on Monday and a hearing on the pretrial detention motion is set for Tuesday.

Hillsborough Public Defender Julianne Holt’s office is listed as representing Abney. Court records do not list an attorney for Tillman. In a text message Friday to a Tampa Bay Times reporter, Holt said her office is “reviewing the cases to determine representation.”

Tillman’s arraignment is also scheduled for Monday and a hearing on the motion to keep him in jail pending trail is set for Dec. 15.

Brucie Boonstoppel, Harrison Boonstoppel’s mother, told the Times on Friday that while the investigation has not been her focus, she was happy to learn about Abney’s arrest.

”I didn’t want them to get away with this,” she said.

She learned about Abney’s initial arrest on the news but was surprised to learn that a boy so young was charged in her son’s death. She said she doesn’t know yet how closely she’ll follow the prosecution. Her focus has been on working through her grief and ensuring her son is remembered, she said.

”I want people to be talking about it, I want people to understand that we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to change things,” she said.

Bercaw said investigators are still looking for additional shooters and tips about multiple people of interest shown in a video released by police.

State and federal law enforcement agencies have pitched in to increase the reward money to $27,000 for tips that lead to arrests. Bercaw asked that anyone with photos, videos or information regarding the shooting contact police through an online portal created to help with the ongoing investigation.

Times staff writer Michaela Mulligan contributed to this report.