TAMPA — A 16-year-old Tampa boy accused of shooting into a car in Brandon last month and killing a 14-year-old girl will be prosecuted as an adult.
Dereck Polanco Rivera was arrested June 25 on charges of second-degree murder with a firearm and shooting at a vehicle in the death of Dinorah Rodriguez. Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren's office will prosecute Rivera as an adult, a spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.
Rivera was initially taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center in Tampa after his arrest while Warren's office reviewed evidence in the case. Rivera was re-arrested Tuesday and booked into the Hillsborough County jail, records show. He was being held without bail Wednesday.
"Charging juveniles as adults should be reserved for the most serious, violent offenders,'' Warren said in a statement. "Mr. Rivera's murder of an innocent victim poses a serious threat to public safety in our community.''
Investigators believe Rivera was targeting a different teenager when he fired into a sedan carrying four people including Rodriguez on June 17, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies found Rodriguez about 1:40 a.m. inside the car in the parking lot of a Walgreens drug store, 128 E Brandon Blvd. Suffering from a gunshot wound, she was flown to Tampa General Hospital. She died the next day.
After interviewing witnesses, deputies learned that the shooting took place at the intersection of Kingsway Road and Clay Avenue, about a mile from the Walgreens. Rivera fired a number of shots as the vehicle approached the intersection, the Sheriff's Office said.
Three other people in the vehicle were not injured. The driver was a woman. The group had just left a house party on Rollingwood Lane in Valrico, the Sheriff's Office said.
Rivera was involved with a gang known as the "TC Boys," based out of Town 'n' Country, but the shooting is not considered gang-related, Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a news conference last month. Rivera had a "beef" with one of the people in the car, Chronister said, but the sheriff did not have details on the nature of the dispute.
A second-degree murder charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. When a firearm is used, the minimum prison sentence is 25 years.
Contact Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.