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Police: 12-year-old Florida boy shot, killed homeless man

Murder victim Thomas Trent. CBS affiliate WTEV

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 12-year-old Florida boy was under arrest Thursday and accused of fatally shooting a homeless man in the head during a "horrific event," police said.

The boy is charged with murder in the killing of 54-year old Thomas Trent after being identified in a surveillance video by investigators, said Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Assistant Chief Chris Butler. It is unclear whether the suspect is being tried as an adult.

"It's a horrific event," said Butler at a news conference. "Horrific for the victim... but also you're talking about a 12-year-old child."

Trent's body was found June 28 at a vacant business building.

"The suspect gave admissions, and he identified himself in the video and being present and involved in the murder," Butler said of the 12-year-old.

Butler says surveillance video from a nearby dental care office and a tattoo business showed two young men walking near the site of Trent's slaying at 2:25 a.m.

Six minutes later, the cameras captured the two running behind a strip-mall near the site where Trent's body was found "with their shorts on their heads," a sheriff's arrest report states.

The report also said that the other boy in the video - identified as a 16-year-old who was being held in jail on an unrelated charge - was found and identified the 12-year-old as the one who shot Trent.

The weapon used in the shooting has not been recovered, Butler said. He said the 16-year-old is not a suspect in Trent's slaying but didn't elaborate.

"I really don't have an explanation as to why the event happened. [The suspect and victim] may have seen each other around but they didn't have a relationship at all," Butler said, according to CBS affiliate WTEV.

Another homeless man, nicknamed Wolverine, stays in a nearby location and told WTEV that he witnessed the boys and Trent arguing with one another for nearly two months.

"I've watched it go on and on and on. He would drink and they'd come around and throw stuff on him when he was passed out, and he would cuss them and throw stuff at them," Wolverine said. "Then they started urinating on him and would pour Cokes on him, so he got mad and threw rocks at them and I think he hit one of them."

"Thomas had a heart of gold," Trent's sister, Dawn McNabb, told the station. "Yeah, he was homeless, yeah he had a drinking problem, but that didn't make a reason for him to be killed. That didn't make a reason for him to be a target."

  • Crimesider Staff

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