‘Gang feuds’ tied to murders in Orange and Osceola counties, deputies say

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — 9 Investigates has been digging through court records since a deadly deputy-involved shooting at the Florida Mall in August. We uncovered more in-depth details about why deputies were there.

The person they were after, Vanshawn Sands, has been linked to what investigators are calling a “gang feud” tied to murders and illegal guns, putting innocent families in danger.

The person who was shot and killed at the mall was not wanted in connection with any gang violence. Deputies were at the mall to execute a warrant for Sands, who is described in court records at the second-in-command of the 438 gang.

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Investigators say a rivalry between two local rappers with huge social media followings is behind the string of violence. State law defines a gang specifically as, “a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group that has as one of its primary activities the commission of criminal or delinquent acts, and that consists of three or more persons who have a common name or common identifying signs, colors, or symbols, including, but not limited to, terrorist organizations and hate groups.”

Click here to read the definition of a gang member.

In body camera video released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Sands repeatedly questions why he is being arrested outside of the Florida Mall. Orange County deputies had a warrant because they said the second-in-command of the 438 gang shot and killed Jeremiah Robinson, an alleged member of a rival gang known in the streets as All Family No Friends, or AFNF.

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The day of that shooting in July, Sands had only been out of jail less than a month. He was arrested for violating the county’s stay-at-home order and for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The timing shows just how easily he was able to get a gun after bonding out of jail.

Orange County deputies believe a feud between these two local rappers and their alleged ties to the 438 and AFNF is behind the July shooting and other violence spanning Orange and Osceola counties.

There are 450,000 Instagram users following the account HotBoii438, owned by Javarri Walker; Jacquavius Smith, who goes by 9lokkNine (Glokk9), has 1.1 million followers. Smith, who faces an attempted murder charge for a separate drive-by shooting, denied any involvement in a gang during a phone call with Channel 9 this week.

READ: Deputy who shot, killed Salaythis Melvin outside Florida Mall one of hundreds of Orange County deputies without body cameras

“They trying to say I’m a gang leader, but I’m not no gang leader. I’m 20 years old. All these grown behind, all these people they’re trying to say I’m leading, is older than me,” Smith told Channel 9 investigative reporter Daralene Jones on a phone call.

Smith told Jones that AFNF is an LLC that he created for his rap career. Sunbiz confirms its LLC status.

“It’s like a label. My bank, when I get paid through YouTube and all that stuff, my bank, that’s what it come under, AFNF, LLC. Orange County and Orlando Police Department keep slandering my rap company,” Smith said.

Court records indicate that the violence heated up on April 14 when Demetrius Cox, who is associated with AFNF, shot and killed Wolph Luma at a house party in the Davenport area of Osceola County. He’s remembered at the start of a “HotBoii438 rap video,” posted on YouTube in the days after his death.

READ: ‘It’s clear that he was running’: Bodycam video shows the moment a man was fatally shot by a deputy at the Florida Mall

Eleven days later, on April 25, during the vigil for Luma, shots were fired at the crowd. Dexter Rentz, a promising high school football star, was killed, and three others were injured. Investigators say the investigation is ongoing and called the shooting a retaliation for Cox’s arrest.

On July 7, investigators said, AFNF members orchestrated a drive-by shooting at a house where Vanshawn Sands was located. Sands, investigators say, is the second-in-command of the 438 gang, and he admitted to deputies that he fired back at the car, killing Jeremiah Robinson. Because detectives believe it was self-defense, Sands was only charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and that’s why he was arrested at the Florida Mall that day.

“There’s no beef whatsoever. We know all them. They my boys. I could call they phone right now,” Smith said.

Channel 9 hasn’t been able to reach Javarri Walker, but he has not been charged with any crimes associated with any of the specific gang violence detailed by law enforcement.

He recently bonded out of jail and faces a charge for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; deputies found the firearm when he was pulled over during a traffic stop.

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