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Arrest made in shooting deaths of two Tampa teens

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 04:25 PM

Tampa police arrested a former high school football standout Thursday night and charged him in the home invasion and shooting deaths of two siblings Sunday morning in the Interbay neighborhood.

Tavari Grant, 18, of 2709 N. Lincoln Ave., Tampa, was charged with two counts of murder and home invasion robbery, said Laura McElroy, a police spokeswoman.

Kiara and Jeremi Brito were shot multiple times at their home near MacDill Air Force Base. Kiara, 16, attended Robinson High School, where she played on the girl's basketball team; Jeremi, 13, attended Madison Middle School.

Police said Grant and Charles Waits went to the home, 3021 Van Buren Dr., just before 6 a.m. to rob them.

Waits, 19, of Tampa, was friends with Kiara and Jeremi, so they were comfortable opening the door when he knocked, McElroy said.

Waits entered and then Grant shot the siblings multiple times, McElroy said. The suspects stole jewelry, electronic equipment and possibly cash, she said.

The suspects drove off from the scene and a neighbor got a partial license plate on the car the led police to Waits.

Police took Waits into custody Monday night to interview him about the shootings. He hasn't been charged in the case, but is now a murder suspect, McElroy said. He's being held without bail on unrelated drug charges.

On Thursday afternoon, police served a search warrant at Grant's home and found valuable evidence. Grant was brought to the police headquarters downtown, where he gave police inconsistent stories and showed no remorse about the shootings, McElroy said.

The teens, who live with their mother, Judy Brito, were the only ones in the home during the attack, police said.

Grant, who was a running back for Armwood High School before transferring to Tampa Bay Tech for his senior year, was named to the Tampa Tribune's All-Hillsborough County Football Team in 2008 following his junior year.  

"At one point, he seemed to be working hard, trying to turn things around and get his grades up," said Matt Thompson, defensive coordinator for Armwood's football team, who also taught driver's education to Grant. "And then, for some reason -- and it was quick, too -- he just went into the tank and stopped trying."

A short time later, Grant became ineligible to play sports and, during the second grading period of the spring of 2009, transferred to Tampa Bay Tech, Thompson said.

Cesar Caminero, the victims' great uncle of El Cajon, Calif., said the family doesn't feel joy in the arrest because two young family members who had life ahead of them were killed.

"The person who did this deserves the death penalty," Caminero said.

A memorial service for Kiara and Jeremi Brito will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church of Port Tampa.

jpatino@tampatrib.com

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