TAMPA — Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives discovered two handguns in a car two people were occupying at the time they were shot to death by security guards outside a New Year’s party for teenagers.
Relatives of the victims had questioned the version of the shooting told to police by the security guards — that the guards discharged their weapons in self-defense after they heard gunshots and saw someone firing a weapon from inside a black Nissan Sentra.
Killed in the Sentra were friends Julissa Jackson, 15, and Jyhaad D. Grant, 25, both of Tampa. The car belonged to Grant’s girlfriend. The security guards, working with Eagle One Security Force, were Keyon Williams, 28, and Connor Harm, 18.
Preliminary evidence suggests both weapons recovered from the Sentra were fired at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The 9 mm pistol and a .380 caliber handgun were found after detectives executed a search warrant for the Sentra.
Investigators would not comment on the sequence of events in the shootings and whether they believe anyone one else was firing.
Arlexus Taylor, Jackson’s 16-year-old cousin, was at the party with her and told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday that at the time of shootings, she saw two men in black standing by the Nissan, firing at it. Taylor also said she saw a young male firing out the rear passenger window of another car.
Jackson, Taylor said, "was in the middle of the cross fire. She was stuck."
Managers had ended the party because of a number of fights and people were filing out of the event hall at 5809 N 50th Street.
Grant was on felony probation stemming from a case last year and was not allowed to have a gun. Records show he pleaded guilty in Hillsborough County to carrying a concealed, firearm, grand theft, resisting a law enforcement officer with violence, uttering a forged instrument and possession of marijuana.
Angel Madison, Grant’s girlfriend of eight years and the mother of his two-month old daughter, was surprised to hear that guns were found in the car.
"I didn’t know he had any guns at all," Madison said.
She said she believes Grant had to have felt threatened to use a gun and would not start shooting without provocation.
"He’s not the type of person to just carry a gun and show off," she said. "Even if he had a handgun, we still don’t know what happened. I just want to know what happened.
No charges have been filed in the case and the investigation continues, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Anyone with any information is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at (813) 247-8200.