‘Kids killing kids:’ Teens shot 17-year-old at park during drug deal ambush, Polk deputies say

16-year-old suspects claim to be gang members

Taigur Taguri, 17, was shot and killed Monday in Gordon Heights Park near Bartow. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Deputies arrested two 16-year-old gang members on Tuesday who are accused of fatally shooting a 17-year-old boy during a drug deal ambush, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said the two teens, who are cousins, were found at a home on Gause Street in Bartow near Gordon Heights Park, where the shooting happened on Monday.

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Both teens face a charge of first-degree murder, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said Taigur Taguri was shot and killed at the park. According to a news release, Taguri had been with his girlfriend in Lakeland earlier in the evening but asked her if she wanted to go for a ride in his red Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

Victim's red Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

The pair ended up at the park where Taguri informed the girl he was going to sell some marijuana to some people, according to deputies.

The girl told investigators four males approached the truck, opened the doors and shot Taguri. The girl was not hurt, deputies said.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the two teenage suspects set up the drug deal with Taguri knowing that they were going to steal the marijuana.

“They intended to rob them of their dope the whole time, there was never any intention to buy the dope,” Judd said. “And when they jerked the car door open, and our victim, saw that firearm, a firearm and he said, ‘No, bro,’ or, ‘Wait, bro,’ he tried to leave. And as he put the car in gear and tried to leave, that’s when he was shot.”

He said Taguri was a George Jenkins High School student while one 16-year-old suspect, who is believed to have been the shooter since the gun used to kill Taguri was found in his room, is an 11th grade student at Bartow High School and the other 16-year-old suspect is an 11th grade student at Fort Meade Middle-Senior, records show.

“It makes me angry. It makes me completely angry that we’ve got kids killing kids and kids shooting kids and we’ve seen that two weeks in a row now. It makes me so angry I want to pluck my eyeballs out one at a time. But we’re going to stop this and we’re going to hold people accountable,” Judd said.

He said the two teenage suspects claimed to be members of a gang that operates in the Bartow area. He added that the suspected shooter has a criminal history that includes robbery and battery and was somehow able to obtain a Glock. He urged parents to be aware of what their children are doing so they don’t resort to violence and criminal activity.

“Parents, I need your help. Start being a parent. Start going into the room, looking into the backpacks, going into their social media and know what they are doing. (These) 16- and 17-year-old kids acting like this need parental oversight. When you don’t provide parental oversight then they do things that they think are cool that they watch in rap videos or gangster music,” Judd said.

While the first two arrests were made quickly in this case, Judd said they’re looking for at least two more males who are believed to have been involved in the shooting.

“The investigation is not over. We know there are at least two other suspects and we ask the community to continue to help us. You have provided information to us but we’re not going to stop until we arrest all four, at least, suspects who descended upon this truck to murder this 17-year-old George Jenkins High school student. We’re not stopping. We’re gonna hold everyone accountable,” Judd said.

The sheriff also wants the two 16-year-old boys to be charged as adults, although that decision will ultimately be up to the state attorney.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.