Crime

Teen murder suspect charged earlier this year with Snapchat threat against Manatee High

Snapchat video shows murder suspect holding gun in previous threat against Manatee High School

Joe Clerjuste, charged with murder in connection to the recent double-homicide in Bradenton, was charged with making threats against a school in February after posting this Snapchat video showing him holding a gun and approaching Manatee High School.
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Joe Clerjuste, charged with murder in connection to the recent double-homicide in Bradenton, was charged with making threats against a school in February after posting this Snapchat video showing him holding a gun and approaching Manatee High School.

The Bradenton teenager implicated in the shooting deaths of two friends earlier this week was charged in February with threatening Manatee High School after he posted a video showing him carrying a gun near the campus, according to authorities.

Joe Clerjuste, 17, who surrendered Thursday to the Denver Police Department in Colorado, is charged with murder in connection with the shooting deaths early Sunday of Caleb Bowman and Kemundrey Pittmon, who were both 18, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said.

It’s unknown when he will be brought back to Manatee County, said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

Clerjuste surrendered at the police department around 10 a.m. local time in Denver, Bristow said.

Additional details surrounding the incident will be released upon Clerjuste’s return to Manatee, according to the sheriff’s office.

About 12:20 a.m. Sunday, the Bradenton Police Department responded to a report of a shooting victim at Manatee Memorial Hospital after Bowman arrived there with gunshot wounds.

He was not able to speak with police before he died, but detectives with the multi-agency Manatee Homicide Investigative Unit were able to piece together details and found the crime scene behind a shopping center on Cortez Road.

When law enforcement arrived behind the Aaron’s rental store at 2114 Cortez Road, they found Pittmon dead from apparent gunshot wounds.

Within hours, detectives identified Clerjuste as the suspect and obtained a juvenile pickup order for his arrest.

Suspect threatened school, cops say

The murder case isn’t the first time this year that Clerjuste has faced a gun-related charge.

On Feb. 21 — a week after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland — Clerjuste was charged with making threats against a school after police said he posted a Snapchat video showing him holding a gun while driving around and approaching Manatee High School.

It was one of more than a dozen similar threats against local schools investigated in the wake of the Parkland shooting, during which 17 students and staff were killed.

The threat was reported to a school resource officer at Manatee High School. Staff at the school told Bradenton police it was Clerjuste on the video, according to a probable cause affidavit. Clerjuste is a former Manatee High student.

The Snapchat video first shows the handgun with an extended magazine before flashing to Clerjuste driving while listening to rap music, and picking up and flashing the handgun.

Later in the video, Clerjuste sings along with part of the Kodak Black song “No Feelings”: “Now you calling me, got me in here talking ‘bout a shooting.”

At the same time, a banner with text stating, “Who’s at school,” appears on the video. The camera is facing the road while the car heads east on 11th Avenue West approaching 35th Street West.

Toward the end of the video, the Manatee High campus comes into view.

Although not heard on the video, the song Clerjuste was listening to includes the lyrics, “I’m talking murder music, and make you fall in love.”

An acquaintance of Clerjuste later called him while detectives were on speaker phone listening, according to the affidavit. During the phone call Clerjuste told his acquaintance that it was a friend’s car and gun.

Bradenton police attempted to find Clerjuste but the teen was later arrested by the sheriff’s office. He was ordered to be held at the juvenile detention center for a 21-day hold.

Follow Samantha Putterman on Twitter @samputterman
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