A argument between three Bradenton teenagers over a prior drug deal last month ended in gunfire, leaving two dead and the third charged with murder.
Joe Clerjuste, 17, is charged with second-degree murder with a firearm in the death of Kemundrey Pittmon, 18. He has been charged as an adult and is being held at the Manatee County jail on a $500,000 bond.
He could still face another murder charge in the death of Caleb Bowman, 18.
Both of the victims were Clerjuste’s friends, according to their families. Now Clerjuste faces up to life in prison if convicted as charged.
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Just after midnight on July 22, a friend picked up Clerjuste and Bowman at the McDonald’s at 6708 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, near Clerjuste’s home, the other teen told Manatee County homicide detectives. The teens were all supposed to be headed to a party.
Clerjuste, sitting in the front passenger seat, told the other teen to drive to the Waffle House on Cortez Road to pick-up Pittmon, known as KP, according to a warrant affidavit. After picking Pittmon up, Clerjuste told the fourth teen to drive behind the nearby Aaron’s Rental store at 2114 Cortez Road.
But the teen did not anticipate what would happen next, he told detectives. As soon as he pulled behind the shopping center, Clerjuste and Bowman each pulled out a handgun, pointed them at Pittmon and demanded, “Give me my (expletive) back.”
Pittmon begged for an opportunity to explain, according to the affidavit.
A struggle ensued between Pittmon and Bowman in the back seat. Shots were fired, according to the fourth teen, so he stopped the car and hunched down. A back passenger window was shot out and Pittmon jumped out the window and “disappeared into the darkness,” according to the affidavit.
Bowman said he had been shot.
Clerjuste told the other teen to drive to Eden Pointe Apartments, 955 53rd St. E., Bradenton while he called another friend and asked her to meet him there because Bowman had been shot. The girl told Clerjuste to take Bowman to the hospital, but he said he couldn’t. Instead they met her in the area of Manatee Memorial Hospital under construction and they carried Bowman into her car.
The girl took Bowman to the emergency room where he died within moments of arriving from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Meanwhile, Clerjuste instructed the other teen to drive them back to Eden Pointe apartments. Once there, Clerjuste grabbed Bowman’s backpack and told other teen, “Stay strong and somewhere to stay. We’ll get through this.”
By the time detectives found the crime scene, Pittmon was already dead. Near his body was a handgun, according to the affidavit, and a trail of blood led from his body to broken glass on the ground.