Witnesses, community trust led to arrests in DeLand double homicide, chief says
DeLAND, Fla. – Less than 11 months after two men were gunned down at a block party in DeLand, police said Thursday they have arrested two suspects thanks to witnesses coming forward, police Chief Jason Umberger said.
Victor Small, 41, and Clayton Lowery, 27, were shot and killed on Nov. 26, 2016 in the Candlelight Oaks neighborhood. Another person was shot and released the same day from the hospital.
Police said the shooting started over a fight involving a fender bender. Small’s cousin told News 6 that he saw the whole thing unfold after Small accidentally hit Lowery’s car during a block party and the situation became heated.
Lowery was shot seven times and Small was shot once, according to the police report. At least 14 shell casings were recovered at the scene on Valleydale Avenue, Umberger said.
Charlie Martin IV, 20, and Jevon L. Dennis, 22, are both charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Both men were already in jail on unrelated charges.
Umberger said both suspects will have first appearances Friday on their new charges.
The chief attributed the arrests to five witnesses who stepped forward after the shooting and the police who foster good relationships in the DeLand community. Their identities are protected ahead of the trial.
The information the witnesses provided were "key pieces" to making the arrests, Umberger said.
"They would not have had the cooperation if they were not out in our community and building relationships and trust with people," Umberger said.
Umberger was hired in May to lead the police department and said he wants to continue to build that trust in the community.
On Thursday, the department had another new hire who the chief said he hopes will help with those efforts: a 7-month-old yellow lab named Sir Lancelot.
Sir Lancelot will work as a drug-sniffing dog, search for missing persons and be out in the community where people will be able to interact with a working K-9.
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