Alleged Accomplice Charged With Murder After Teens Are Shot in Robbery Attempt

Police Line / Police Tape" by Tony Webster is marked with CC BY 2.0 DEED.

Two teens in Plant City, Florida were shot early Thursday morning, and while police initially didn't say much about what led up to shots being fired, they've now charged a 20-year-old with murder; not for pulling the trigger, but for driving the teens to a home where they allegedly committed an robbery before their intended victim shot them. 


Authorities say that Abraham Melendez was behind the wheel when the three drove to the home where the shooting took place, and dropped the teens off at a local hospital after they were shot.

According to a department news release, Melendez, the 14-year-old boy and “others” drove to the area of West House Street and Lakewood Avenue at about 1 a.m. Thursday with plans to commit a robbery. The boy and and an 18-year-old man were shot during the robbery attempt and Melendez took the boy and the man to South Florida Baptist Hospital. 

The boy died from a gunshot wound to his upper body. The 18-year-old man was also shot in the upper body and was undergoing treatment, police said.

The department has not released their names and a spokesperson did not immediately respond Friday to a request by the Tampa Bay Times for that information.

Police haven't said anything at all about the robbery victim who shot the teens, but it doesn't appear that they've been arrested or are facing any charges at the moment. That could change as police investigate the circumstances of the robbery, including what, exactly, the group was hoping to take away from their target. I've covered countless defensive gun uses over the years, and I'd say it's a little unusual that authorities have kept quiet about who actually fired the shots during the robbery even as they've announced Menendez's arrest on second-degree murder charges. Still. their silence is not in and of itself evidence that the shooter is believed to have broken any laws. 


Melendez, on the other hand, could be looking at a minimum of almost 17 years in prison if he's convicted of second-degree murder. Under Florida law, an accomplice to a crime can be charged with murder if someone is killed during the commission of a multitude of crimes, including robbery. The felony is punishable by up to life in prison, but also comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of 16 years and 8 months behind bars upon conviction. 

We'll be keeping an eye out for more information in this case, including any previous criminal history on the part of Melendez and the teens who were allegedly involved in the robbery attempt as well as any info about the gun owner who shot the would-be robbers early Thursday morning. 

The death of this teen is tragic, especially because it could have been prevented if he'd simply stayed home instead of going out for a late-night robbery with his older buddies. It's not, however, justification for more gun control laws. If anything, it should prompt Florida lawmakers to take a look at increasing the penalties for adults who entice juveniles into committing violent crimes on their behalf, though it might be a moot point when it comes to Melendez's case. 

As far as gun control activists are concerned, though, this is simply another case of a child becoming the victim of "gun violence"; a death that will be turned into a data point to make the case that we don't have enough gun laws on the books, particularly in the "Gunshine State" of Florida. It doesn't matter to them that the 14-year-old was shot while allegedly committing a felony crime, or that the person who pulled the trigger hasn't been charged or arrested. They've got a body to point to, and that's all they'll need to proclaim that Florida would be a safer place if it scrapped Constitutional Carry, imposed gun licensing laws, and any number of infringements on our right to keep and bear arms. 


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