‘Never lost faith’: Man arrested in connection with Boone High School student’s 2018 shooting death

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the 2018 shooting death of a 15-year-old Boone High School student, Orange County Sheriff John Mina announced during a Friday morning news conference.


Mina said Deandre Florence, now 23, fatally shot Alejandro “Alex” Vargas Martinez on Dec. 18, 2018, while he was walking to school.

He said Florence shot Vargas while trying to rob him of his cellphone; he was speaking on the phone with his mother at the time of the shooting.

On Tuesday, a grand jury returned a first-degree murder indictment against Florence.

He has been arrested on charges of first-degree murder, racketeering and robbery.

Read: Person of interest in death of Boone High School student jailed on another crime wants out

“We can’t image the pain, the suffering they have gone through,” Mina said of the victim’s family. “But we do hope this arrest has brought just a small measure of justice to their family.”

The victim’s mother described the pain she has had to endure during the almost five years since her son’s death.

“First things first: To God be the glory. Without him, nothing is possible,” she said. “These five years have been very hard for us. We think about Alex every single day. We talk about Alex every single day. There’s not one day that passes that we don’t mention Alex in our house.

She said time has not eased the pain of her gut-wrenching loss.

“Losing a loved one is very painful -- extremely painful -- especially the way we lost Alex,” she said. “They say that time heals. But to be honest, it does not. It’s just a patch to a broken heart. We just have to live with it.”

But the victim’s mother said she knew an arrest would come, even if it took years.

Read: Sources: Persons of interest identified in fatal shooting of Boone High School student

“We never lost faith that this day was going to arrive,” she said. “We know that the truth is more powerful than anything. And we know that justice was on its way to be served.”

Watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News for live team coverage of this developing story.

See the suspect be taken to jail, and watch the full news conference below:

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Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.