It started with a phone call.
"On February 22nd, at approximately 3:17 am, Tiffany Powell Humphries reported her son, Demarco Powell, missing," Lakeland Interim Police Chief Larry Giddens said Tuesday.
Just hours later, Demarco Powell's body was found in a field, near the railroad tracks along Atline Road. Police say he was a participant, and victim, of gang violence.
He was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. Witnesses say Powell was wearing a gun on a rope around his neck the night he was killed.
"We may never know what the actual conflict was, but there were some indications that the victim was going to set up his current gang," Lakeland Police Captain Greg Policastro said Tuesday.
Just 48 hours later, police say they know who pulled the trigger. 16-year old Tyler Knight is under arrest and charged with first degree murder.
Investigators say he showed no remorse during questioning.
"Certainly, there's a potential for a lack of sensitivity on the part of the youth in terms of how life is valued," Policastro said.
Knight went to school at Kathleen High in Lakeland. Students there say the gang activity is out of control.
"It kinda scared me because these boys are getting killed off one by one, and it's not going to stop until the last one is standing," Kathleen High School student Asia Davis said.
Another 16-year old is also facing charges for lying to police about his whereabouts the night of the murder.
Investigators say it's another senseless crime, ruining the lives of three teenagers.
"Everybody loses here, there's not a winner. This is senseless violence and it's got to stop," Giddens said.
Lakeland police plan to start a gang task force, present in the community and in schools, to keep kids from entering gangs. Still, police say the most critical component is right at home: parental involvement.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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