INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Deputies arrested an 18-year-old suspect in connection with a homicide after finding him washing the clothes he wore during the deadly shootout.
Deputies said the man – identified as Camden Stukins – had on the clothes a couple hours earlier while firing shots at a vehicle Sunday that led to a man’s death. Doctors at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in Fort Pierce pronounced the unidentified man dead overnight, Indian River County sheriff’s spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers said.
Deputies believe Stukins is a senior at Vero Beach High School. Flowers said an unidentified woman, who was a front-seat passenger in the victim’s car, also attends the school.
One of the back-seat passengers attends the Freshman Learning Center. Another back-seat passenger attends Alternative Center for Education, Flowers said.
The victim along with a third back-seat passenger were already out of school.
“The passengers identified Stukins as the shooter,” Flowers said. “They all said it was a drug deal gone bad.”
Detectives found marijuana in the man’s car, which had a total of five people inside at the time of the shooting.
“This incident should serve to remind kids and parents that what may be a simple marijuana deal can quickly turn violent,” Flowers said. “While we do not have all the details yet, we know this was a drug deal gone bad and now one person is dead. Drugs continue to be a factor in the gun violence situations in our community.”
Flowers said the five people, including the man with the gunshot wound, were hurt when the man drove from the area at a high rate of speed into traffic and crashed into two other vehicles. All were taken to area hospitals; three were released Sunday night.
The woman in the front-right passenger’s seat remains in critical condition, Flowers said.
“She has metal in her body,” Flowers said, describing the wreck as a serious crash. “We don’t know yet if it’s from a projectile from a bullet or a piece of metal from the crash.”
Deputies arrested Stukins, of the 1100 block of 12th Street, Vero Beach, on a variety of charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, shoot or throw deadly missile, tampering with or destroying evidence and sale or possession of marijuana. Stukins was held Monday at the Indian River County Jail without bond.
Deputies responded to reports of a shooting about 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the 2000 block of 9th Street Southwest. Flowers said Stukins fired several shots at a four-door silver Sedan in a BP gas station parking lot.
Stukins then fled the scene in a blue BMW, Flowers said. The man driving the Sedan then sped into traffic, causing his vehicle to be T-boned by a white pickup.
The crash caused the car to spin around and hit another white pickup, Flowers said.
Three backseat passengers were taken to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. Flowers said the three unidentified people were released late Sunday and then interviewed at the sheriff’s office.
The people in the two pickups were not hurt, Flowers said.
Deputies found Stukins at a residence in the 700 block of 4th Place. Deputies detained Stukins and recovered the clothes he was washing, Flowers said.
Deputies have not found the gun used in the shooting. School district officials said crisis management team officials will be on the campus of VBHS and the Alternative Center for Education Tuesday morning for students and teachers.
“We are aware of the tragic incident that occurred last night involving some of our current and past students,” school officials said in a social media post on Twitter. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to all affected.”
The incident remains under investigation.
The case is not the first fatal drug-related shooting involving students to happen in recent years. In February 2019, Sebastian River High School junior Logan Spencer, 16, was shot and killed execution-style in Fellsmere.
Deputies said the gunman, SRHS senior Elisha Martin, 18, shot Spencer after he thought the teen stole money from him. Martin was a known drug dealer; the stolen money was suspected to be made from narcotics sales, deputies said.