OAK HILL, Fla. — A 15-year-old boy who shot a 48-year-old man in the neck early Sunday after being asked to leave a party to which he had not been invited surrendered to the Daytona Beach Police Department Wednesday morning, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said.
Investigators said Joel Tatro had organized a small bonfire party at his Oak Hill home for his three teenage sons and their friends when, shortly after 1 a.m., James Powell and three of his friends arrived at the home uninvited.
"He simply asked these kids to leave. They weren't welcome," said Jennifer Lashway, Tatro's cousin. "A gun was taken out, and he was shot in the neck and a whole family's life has been shattered."
- UCF president offers resignation amid school's misuse of millions in funds
- 'No good deed goes unpunished': Trooper recalls decision to shoot, kill 15-year-old boy
- Florida statue commemorating iconic WWII 'kiss photo' vandalized with '#MeToo' graffiti
- WATCH: Man driving semitruck on I-4 arrested in connection with Longwood murder, police say
She said the shooting paralyzed Tatro, who underwent further surgery Tuesday.
Lashway said Tatro can move one of his arms, but he has no feeling in it. She said he communicates with his family by blinking.
"We have a letter board," she said. "We will ask him if the letter I wrote -- 'Is it 1? Is it A? Is it B?' And that's how we communicate at this point."
She said Tatro, who works in the construction industry, is his family's sole provider and has no health insurance.
"He can't even go back to his home right now, because we are talking rehabilitation center. We are talking wheelchairs, ramps -- total adaptability for a quadriplegic and round-the-clock-care," Lashway said. "He needs everything done for him."
Lashway said Tatro's sons have remained by his side since Sunday.
"They are trying not to be upset. They are trying to be strong
for their dad," she said. "We don't want him to know how upset everyone is, because we don't want him to give up."
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Tatro's sons and the suspects all attend New Smyrna Beach High School.
Chitwood said a $5,000 reward was being offered for information that lead to the capture of Powell, a gang member who faces an attempted murder charge.
Channel 9's Karen Parks on Tuesday afternoon notified Chitwood that Tatro's relatives said they have been threatened by other alleged gang members.
"They know where certain members of the family live, and his son can't even go to school, because he doesn't feel safe," Lashway said.
Chitwood said he will increase deputy patrols of Tatro's neighborhood.
Deputies said Tatro told the four people to leave his home, and Powell exited the vehicle and shot Tatro in front of his sons and their friends.
Powell has not shown remorse for the shooting, investigators said. They said they believe someone might have assisted him in hiding, but they have not said who.
Powell's attorney, Carlus Haynes, told Channel 9 on Wednesday that his client admits to pulling the trigger, but he will not plead guilty, because he did not intend to harm anyone.
Haynes said Powell was invited to the party by someone who was attending it.
Witnesses said Tatro and Powell got into a physical fight after Tatro told Powell and his friends to leave his home, an arrest report said.
Haynes said the accusation that Powell is a gang member is exaggerated.
"This group -- this clique -- is no more of a gang than the Boy Scouts," he said.
Powell is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.
© 2020 Cox Media Group