Third teen dies from gunfire injuries: Sheriff holds press conference

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods is shown during a press conference in Ocala, FL, on Tuesday, April 4. [Andy Fillmore]

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Posted April 4, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday afternoon stated in a news release that a teenage girl has succumbed to the gunshot injuries she sustained last week. That announcement was followed by a mid-afternoon press conference.

According to MCSO officials, a 16-year-old girl was found shot and critically injured last Thursday on Southeast 183rd Avenue Road near Forest Lakes Park, a 17-year-old boy was found deceased from gunshot injuries on Friday in the vicinity of Southeast 94th Street and Southeast 188th Court and a 16-year-old girl was found deceased from gunshot injuries on Saturday in a partially submerged vehicle near a body of water in the vicinity of Malauka Loop and Malauka Loop Trace.

The MCSO press release on Tuesday stated that the injured female found at the Southeast 183rd Avenue Road location “has now been identified as Layla Danielle Silvernail. Layla was transported to a hospital in critical condition, where she succumbed to her injuries.”

The names of the other victims are being held as the families invoked Florida’s Marsy’s Law, which prohibits official disclosure of crime victim information.

During the press conference on Tuesday, Woods confirmed that law enforcement officials are visiting the Forest Lakes Park area in east Marion County to reassure residents and said that “every lead” is being looked at.

He affirmed that all of the victims suffered fatal gunshot wounds. He said that 15 detectives have been assigned to the case so far and this is an isolated incident.

“The victims were known to know each other and appears they were together in a time leading up to the incident,” Woods noted, adding that the victims were “friends as far as we know.”

Following the press conference, MCSO Lt. Paul Bloom confirmed that the office has received information that a “hybrid gang” may be tied to the case and stated that a number of “persons of interest” includes teenagers.

Residents of Forest Lakes Park, where two of the victims were found, indicated on Tuesday that the area is usually quiet and said they were shocked and surprised by the tragic events of the last several days.

The entrance to the Forest Lakes Park area is shown on Tuesday, April 4, in Ocklawaha, FL. [Andy Fillmore]

One resident who has lived in the area for about eight years said of the victims, “They were just kids.”

Another resident appeared to be concerned about rumors circulating in the area.

On Monday, the MCSO posted a video on Facebook with Woods speaking about squelching rumors and reassuring residents that there is no known “fourth victim.”

Woods called Forest Lakes Park, in Ocklawaha, a “tight knit” community and asked residents with any information to call authorities.

“We need your help citizens. We’re looking for help for the families who lost a victim,” Woods stated in the video.

“I know this is a rural, tight-knit community and many of you are very concerned,” Woods states in a text post on the MSCO Facebook page. “Someone out there knows something. Word travels fast but we want you to have accurate information and not rumors. Limited information is available right now because this case is active. But, if you have any information that may aid us in bringing closure to this case, please call Detective Ryan Stith at (352) 368-3542. Or, if you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers of Marion County at (352) 368-STOP (7867) and reference 23-22 in your tip.”

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