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Four Arrested in Connection with Shooting Death of Teen in Winter Haven

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Four suspects with criminal histories have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of 15-year-old Quashawn Burgess, Jr., a teenage gang member, in Winter Haven. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) announced the arrests following the discovery of Burgess’ body early on September 12.

The body was found around 2:30 a.m. by a woman who was heading to a friend’s house after work. She discovered Burgess lying in a driveway and immediately alerted authorities. Deputies who canvassed the neighborhood reported that witnesses heard what sounded like a “pop” around 12:30 a.m. but assumed it was fireworks.

Burgess’ mother was unaware that her son was not home, believing he was asleep on the living room couch when she went to bed at 10:30 p.m. on September 11. When detectives arrived at her house, she discovered that Burgess was not in his bedroom and did not know when he had left or where he had gone.

Sheriff Grady Judd detailed the sequence of events leading to the shooting. It began when Lilia Gonzalez, a convicted felon, contacted 23-year-old Jase Govia to purchase a gun. Since she is legally prohibited from buying a firearm, Govia, who runs a “weed house” with his cousin 34-year-old Pierre Sauveur, put her in touch with 20-year-old Rashan Harris.

Gonzalez and Harris met at a Circle K, where he sold her a stolen gun for $200. Later that evening, Harris called Gonzalez, offering to sell her more bullets. Although Gonzalez found the request strange, she agreed and provided her address.

On his way to meet Gonzalez, Harris picked up Burgess, who intended to buy marijuana from the weed house across the street. When Gonzalez got into Harris’ car to discuss the bullets, she sensed something was wrong. Moments later, Burgess attempted to rob Gonzalez at gunpoint, not realizing she had the gun she had bought earlier. Gonzalez pulled the gun from her purse and shot Burgess, who then collapsed and died on the driveway.

After the shooting, Gonzalez fled to her home, and Harris left the scene, abandoning Burgess. Gonzalez went into hiding for three days before being apprehended. She claimed she was defending herself during the robbery attempt.

Gonzalez faces multiple charges, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, dealing in stolen property, tampering with evidence, grand theft of a firearm, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, maintaining a residence for illegal substances, and possession of paraphernalia.

Harris has been charged with second-degree murder, attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, dealing in stolen property, grand theft of a firearm, tampering with evidence, unlawful use of a communication device, giving false information during a capital felony investigation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and violation of probation.

Govia and Sauveur face charges related to maintaining a residence for illegal substances, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, and possession of paraphernalia.

“This case is a tragic example of the cycle of violence that can stem from illegal activities and poor choices,” said Sheriff Judd. “These individuals have long criminal histories, and their actions have now led to the senseless death of a 15-year-old boy.”

The investigation into the homicide is ongoing as deputies continue to piece together the events that led to the fatal shooting.

 

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