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2 teen brothers arrested after Pinellas shooting kills sister on Christmas Eve

An argument over Christmas gifts between the boys ended with two shots fired at their grandmother’s home. Their 23-year-old sister was killed.
 
Pinellas deputies have arrested two teenage brothers after an argument over who was getting more presents led to guns being drawn and their sister being shot and killed on Christmas Eve. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri shared details about the incident at a news conference in Largo on Tuesday morning.
Pinellas deputies have arrested two teenage brothers after an argument over who was getting more presents led to guns being drawn and their sister being shot and killed on Christmas Eve. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri shared details about the incident at a news conference in Largo on Tuesday morning. [ Jack Prator|Times ]
Published Dec. 26, 2023|Updated Dec. 26, 2023

Two brothers, 14 and 15, face murder charges after an argument over who was getting more presents led to a shooting that killed their sister — a mother of two — on Christmas Eve.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the “family spat” began Sunday during a shopping trip in Largo. When the family returned to the home of the boys’ grandmother in the 2300 block of 22nd Avenue Southwest, the teens were still arguing.

Standing in the kitchen, Damarcus Coley, 14, pulled out a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun and aimed it at his brother, 15-year-old Darcus Coley, threatening to shoot him in the head, Gualtieri said.

The teens’ uncle separated the boys, telling Damarcus to step outside. Gualtieri said a neighbor’s outdoor camera captured audio of their sister, Abrielle Baldwin, 23, as she tried to intervene.

“You all need to leave that stuff alone. Why are you trying to start it? It’s Christmas,” Baldwin told her younger brother, Gualtieri said.

At about 1:45 p.m., Damarcus yelled threats at Baldwin and then shot her in the chest, Gualtieri said. The round went through her left arm before puncturing her lungs. At the time, Baldwin was holding her 10-month-old baby, who was not injured, Gualtieri said.

After hearing the gunshot, Darcus ran outside, screaming about how Damarcus had shot their sister.

Pinellas deputies have arrested two teenage boys in connection to a homicide on Christmas Eve. The boys were arguing over gifts when one of them shot and killed their 23-year-old sister outside their grandmother's house, authorities say.
Pinellas deputies have arrested two teenage boys in connection to a homicide on Christmas Eve. The boys were arguing over gifts when one of them shot and killed their 23-year-old sister outside their grandmother's house, authorities say. [ Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]

Eight seconds after the fatal shot rang out, Darcus fired a round at his brother with his own .45 caliber pistol, Gualtieri said. The 15-year-old threw his gun in a neighbor’s yard and ran to a relative’s home in Clearwater, where deputies later arrested him, Gualtieri said. Darcus made statements about self-harm and was taken to a mental health facility.

Baldwin was taken to Largo Medical Center, where she died. She was also the mother of a 6-year-old boy.

Damarcus was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery. Gualtieri said later will be moved to a juvenile detention center.

“This is what happens when you’ve got young delinquents and they carry guns,” Gualtieri told reporters. “They get upset, they don’t know how to handle stuff, so they just pick up their guns and start shooting each other.”

Damarcus Coley is charged with first-degree murder, child abuse and being a minor in possession of a firearm.

Darcus Coley is charged with attempted first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.

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The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case and deciding whether to charge either as an adult, Gualtieri said. Because of the serious nature of the crime, the Times is naming the juvenile suspects.

Family members told investigators the two boys routinely carried guns.

Investigators are trying to determine if the gun Damarcus used was stolen. Deputies have not recovered Darcus’ handgun. Gualtieri said he feared someone else took it before deputies could find it.

“And the sad part is, I think it’s going to be used in another crime,” he said.

Damarcus’ arrest history dates back to when he was 12. He previously has been charged with vehicle theft, battery on a school employee and battery on a law enforcement officer, Gualtieri said. He said both brothers were arrested in May for multiple car burglaries and both have previous juvenile charges for being a minor in possession of a firearm.

Gualtieri said he believes both guns used in Sunday’s shooting were likely stolen from unlocked cars.

Over the past month, Pinellas deputies have received 17 reports of stolen guns from unlocked cars, Gualtieri said.

Since September, there have been 13 shootings or incidents involving guns in the Ridgecrest-Baskin area, Gualtieri said, close to where Baldwin was killed.

“The problem is,” he said, “you’ve got way too many kids out there with way too many guns.”

Gualtieri said he has increased police presence in the Pinellas neighborhood over the last couple of months. Gun violence among young children has reached the worst level he has ever seen, Gualtieri said.

He urged stricter penalties in these cases.

“These kids need to get locked up,” Gualtieri said. “Send a message.”