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Neighbors, parents react to shooting near schools | Crime

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Neighbors, parents react to shooting near schools

Brandon, Florida -- Tense moments in eastern Hillsborough County Thursday morning after five schools in the Brandon area had to be placed on lockdown.

On Thursday, Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies searched for the suspects involved in the 7:00 a.m. shooting that took place just down the block from an elementary school, just as the kids were showing up for classes.

PREVIOUS STORY: Sheriff: Public danger over near Brandon schools

Neighbors say there's been trouble brewing here for the past six months. And today, just as they feared it might, that trouble spilled right into the streets.

"They all started running and he was still shooting. He was shooting in the road," said a terrified Elizabeth Baxley.

Gunfire erupted at about 7:00 a.m. right outside her Brandon home.

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"I came out here and saw him shooting the man in the driveway. I started screaming, 'please go, leave,' " she said.

Baxley was even more worried about her son who left the house a few minutes earlier to walk to his school bus, as well as the other children who walk to school.

"They could take someone hostage. They could still be shooting," Baxley said.

Yates Elementary School, which is so close to the scene of the shooting you can see it just up the street, was immediately locked down. Four more schools were eventually added to the list as a precaution as deputies launched an all out manhunt and eventually took three suspects into custody.

"No motive right now, it's obviously a strange situation," said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. "We'll be working to find out if they knew each other."

At this point, the Sheriff said it appeared the suspects -- a 17-year-old and one 15-year-old -- may have followed the victim home from a night job at a nearby McDonald's restaurant, then shot two men at the house.

One of the wounded victims had to be airlifted to a local hospital.

Sky10 captured dramatic video of a Good Samaritan taking down one of the suspects.

Later, it was a heartbreaking image for any parent, as children had to be escorted by deputies to their classrooms.

Andrew Willig, whose son Cylis attends Yates Elementary, was thankful for the quick response.

"They had it all shut down right away so I think they did a good job," he said.

When asked what he wanted to do now, Cylis simply responded, "Go to school."

Frustrated neighbors said the area has seen an increasing share of drug deals and other crimes -- all in such close proximity to the schools.

"If you have drug houses in your neighborhood, things of that nature, suspicious activity, be sure to let us know so we can get in and investigate that and hopefully sometimes take care of these people before they become a problem," said Sheriff Gee.

But Elizabeth Baxley said she's done just that.

She left a message with the Sheriff's Office as recently as last week, "trying to explain to them that you know there's a lot of children around here, a lot of drug activity. And what happened? Nothing. No response," she explained.

"I think something should have been done before all of this happened," said Baxley.

Yates Elementary remained on lockdown for several hours after the suspects had been rounded-up as deputies continued looking for the gun.

Michael Bledsoe, another parent with a student at Yates Elementary, said he too was grateful to the sheriff's office, but not happy with the school itself.

Bledsoe said it took an hour and a half for him to receive a reverse phone call message letting him and, he suspects, other parents know about what was happening.

By that time, he said, many parents may have found themselves driving right into a very volatile situation.


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