APOPKA, Fla. – A $15,000 reward is being offered for any information that could lead to the arrest of anyone responsible for the deadly shooting of a 15-year-old girl at an Apopka gas station in March 2020.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation Tampa Division and Apopka Police Department released a statement Thursday announcing the reward, which is a combined effort. The FBI Tampa Division is offering $10,000 while Central Florida Crimeline is offering up to $5,000.
Nykeria Simmons was 11 days away from her birthday when she was fatally shot on March 15, 2020, according to an obituary.
The Apopka High School student was at the Circle-K gas station on 277 E. Main St. when she was found shot after midnight, according to authorities. When officers arrived on scene, Simmons was already dead.
The ongoing investigation into Simmons’ death has revealed she was not the intended target of the shooting, and it was not a random act violence. Officers have also been able to identify the vehicle involved in the incident that night.
“It is believed this shooting was the result of an ongoing dispute between two parties,” an online FBI poster said. “The suspect(s) shot the victim from a white Lincoln MKZ vehicle that had been reported stolen and was later recovered.”
That same day, the former Apopka Memorial Middle School girls’ basketball coach, Melvin Bolden, posted to social media in memory of the time he coached the teenage track and field and basketball athlete when she trained with him.
“The (loss) of a former student is unexplainable,” Bolden said on the post. “To find out that her life was taken away at 16 years old really hurts. I don’t even know what else to say.”
The day after Simmons was killed, the Apopka High School community was in mourning and grief counselors were being offered, even amid pandemic school closures of 2020, through the district’s Student Services department, said Lorena Arias assistant director of media relations for Orange County Public Schools.
Principal Lyle Heinz sent a message over Connect Orange, a text messaging app for school faculty, staff and families, sharing the “very sad news,” honoring the victim and offering grief counseling resources.
“One of our students was tragically killed last night,” Heinz said in the message. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they go through this extremely difficult time.”
Anyone with information concerning Simmons’ case is encouraged to contact out to their local FBI office, nearest American Embassy or Consulate, if reaching out from outside the U.S., or to submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.