Palmetto — The Palmetto Police Department arrested Jason Charles on Friday in connection with a fatal shooting June 5 behind a church in the 500 block of 12th Street Drive West.
The arrest of the 16-year-old is the first arrest in a homicide case by the department since 1998. Prior to Friday’s arrest, the city had seven homicide cases without an arrest dating back to 2002, according to police records.
Charles has been charged with one count of felony first degree murder and a felony attempted murder, according to Lt. Scott Tyler, the department’s spokesperson.
Tyler said it is still unclear if Charles will be charged as an adult.
Chief Rick Wells credits Detective Chad Oyler, and others who worked on the case, for its resolution.
Within an hour of the incident, Oyler had the name of the suspect and began building the case from there, Tyler said.
“Detective Oyler worked very hard on this case since it happened,” Wells said. “We are going to continue to work every cold case.”
On the night of the shooting, Charles was attempting to rob two men behind the church, when he shot both victims and fled the area, according to the police report.
One of the victims, Beltran Perez-Diaz, 25, was able to make it to the front of the church before collapsing and dying. The other victim, a 27-year-old whose name has not been released is still recovering.
He managed to crawl through backyards to the Oakridge Apartments on 13th Street before he collapsed.
Oyler could not be reached for comment about the case Friday night.
In the aftermath of the homicide, then-chief Garry Lowe attended an hour-and-a-half long meeting at Lincoln Middle School, 305 17th St. E. where residents raised their concerns about the incident.
Since then, Wells has increased police presence in Palmetto and is in the process of opening a resource center for the community.
In this case, witnesses helped lead to the arrest of Charles. Wells said he encourages the community to continue to work with police to help solve other unsolved murders and crimes in Palmetto.
“We’ve been working closely with the community,” Wells said. “If you see a crime in process call 911 and if you have information that would lead to an arrest call crime stoppers.”