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Arrests

During the first half of the year, 17 people survived shootings in Fort Myers. So far, four people have been arrested.
• Jordan David Palmer, 22, was arrested in March for allegedly shooting a man during an attempted robbery. The victim was hospitalized in critical condition. The case against Palmer was dropped, in part because he had an alibi and alibi witnesses, and video from the crime does not appear to be of him, according to Samantha Syoen, spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office.
• Laquitta Deshonda Latson, 31, was sentenced to one year’s probation after her boyfriend accused her of firing 10 rounds at him in April. She missed, according to the police report. Latson was arguing with her boyfriend after she accused him of cheating with her sister, according to a police report.
Two other arrests are in the court system:
• Russel Brown, 34, allegedly shot his brother in January. Brown, who faces a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and two counts of possession of a weapon by a felon, is awaiting an Oct. 15 trial, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office website.
• Joseph Webb, 26, was arrested in March after allegedly attempting to shoot his aunt’s boyfriend. Webb missed, according to a police report, but managed to hit his victim in the buttock as the victim ran away. He is in Lee County Jail awaiting an Oct. 23 court date, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office website.

More

A pregnant 18-year-old is shot in the thigh.

A woman fires 10 rounds at her boyfriend after accusing him of cheating.

Bullets spray a crowd of people outside a party, injuring four people.

It’s just luck such incidents didn’t add more bodies to Fort Myers’ homicide count this year, police Chief Doug Baker said.

In the first half of the year, 17 people survived shootings in the city, according to police records. Police did not have records for the rest of the year immediately available. According to The News-Press records, at least another 14 victims survived shootings since June. That doesn’t include self-inflicted gunshot wounds — one of which happened while the shooter threatened his girlfriend with a gun.

If the shooters had better aim, the victims hadn’t been so lucky, or the surgeons hadn’t been so skilled, the Fort Myers homicide count for 2012 could have reached at least 51 by now.

There have been 20 homicides in Fort Myers this year — one more will break the city’s 10-year high.

“I mean,” Baker said, “it’s just by chance that they’re not included in the homicides.”

It’s especially lucky considering most cases involved more than one shot, and many victims were hit in more than one place, he said.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office did not have data available on nonfatal shootings this year. There have been 120 instances of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, which includes mostly shootings and stabbings.

Recent incidents

Last week alone, four people were shot in Fort Myers.

Friday morning, 21-year-old Antonio Crews was shot, also while in his car, in the Sunrise Towers apartment complex parking lot on Central Avenue. His injuries are not life threatening, according to police.

Michelle Fletcher, 34, and Quayshun Lewis, 21, were shot in a car Wednesday morning off Winkler Road. They were in critical condition Wednesday, and Lee Memorial Hospital has not released further updates.

The two incidents are not connected, Fort Myers police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn said.

Angel Espinosa, 29, was found shot to death on the Tarpon Street Pier on Sunday.

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Shootings in the city often stem from trivial disagreements. In September, a man was shot over a cell phone. He survived. Later that month, a teen was killed over what appears to be his involvement in a local rap group.

Fort Myers police Capt. Duke Perry said there is no one reason for all the shootings.

“I think it’s more like egos,” Perry said. “When things are said on Facebook or put on YouTube, and videos — individuals take a disliking to it.”

These are targeted shootings, Perry said, but in many cases police don’t know whether the shooter stalked the victim or just ran into him or her by chance.

“Individuals know who they’re trying to shoot,” he said. “And they pretty much accomplish what they’re trying to do.”

When asked if many of the shootings are connected, or if the nonfatal shootings lead to homicides, Baker said the shootings involve a lot of familiar faces.

Of the 17 shooting victims who survived in the first half of this year, three officially refused to cooperate with police. Several others gave statements that were borderline useless.

“(The victim) stated that the man ‘just came in and shot him,’ but was unable to give a location or direction,” the police report from a June shooting says.

“You have fear of retaliation,” Baker said. “I think that’s a reason. In some cases, they may not know. The possibility does exist they may not know. They may be involved in criminal activity or someplace they don’t want to be.”

Until the community starts coming forward with information, arrests will remain few, Baker said.

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