POLK COUNTY, Fl. — Three close friends were killed Friday as they approached a Florida lake for a night of fishing, according to law enforcement officials.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Damion Tillman, Brandon Rollins and Keven Springfield drove in two separate cars to Lake Streety Road in Frostproof, Florida, where they planned to go catfishing.
The men were 23, 27 and 30 years old respectively.
Investigators believe Tillman arrived at the lake first around 10:00 p.m., and he was beaten and shot.
Rollins and Springfield arrived soon after in a separate vehicle, where they found their battered friend. When they found him, he was still being beaten by the attackers, officials said. Then they were also shot and beaten.
At some point during the incident, Rollins was able to call his father, who was sleeping. Authorities said Rollins said “help” in the call to his father.
The father, who was only 10 minutes away and knew where the men had gone to fish, rushed to the scene to help. In his frenzy, he forgot to bring his cellphone.
He found his son and the friends critically injured.
In an effort to get help, Rollins’ father left the scene to go to a nearby convenience store and call 911.
By the time he returned to the scene, Rollins and his friends had died.
Judd called the scene a “massacre.”
“This is a horrific scene. I’ve been to a lot of murder scenes in my life, and this ranks among the worst,” he said.
Authorities have not released details of the conversation between Rollins and his son and have not said whether or not they have any suspects in mind. Officials do believe more than one person was responsible for the attack.
When asked if the crime may have been targeted, Judd suggested he doesn’t think it was a random act.
“You don’t just stumble upon somebody out here. This is a dirt road, a clay dirt road, way out in the middle of what we call God’s country, on the way to a nice little fishing lake. It’s not like there’s a lot of people around here. As you can see, it’s cow pastures and lakes,” he said.
Authorities are offering $5,000 for any information leading to the capture of the killers.
“We’re going to find who did this, and we’re going to put them in jail,” Judd said.
Tillman, Rollins and Springfield were all from Frostproof, a small town that Judd described as safe, quaint and quiet where everyone knows each other.
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