Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Two Teens in Highway Shooting
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Prosecutors dropped attempted murder charges against two youths arrested in the drive-by shooting of a motorist, one of dozens of attacks on a beltway around the city.
Charges Tuesday were dropped against Leslie Chad Edwards, 17, and Scott D. Neaves, 16, accused in the July 29 shooting of Debra Lewis. Edwards remained in custody on unrelated burglary and grand theft charges.
Mrs. Lewis, 38, was left partially disabled after she was shot in the side of the head from a passing car on Interstate 295.
″Like I have said all along, I don’t want the wrong person to pay for what happened to me,″ she said. ″I can’t identify who shot me, but hopefully whoever shot me will be found.″
State Attorney Harry Shorstein said charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence.
Police said the teen-agers were members of a gang called the English Estates Posse, named for a housing development near the freeway.
At least 37 sniper and rock-throwing attacks have occurred since mid- February on the bypass, a major tourist gateway into Florida. One man was killed July 4 when a concrete chunk fell on his car and he crashed.
The American Automobile Association on Monday lifted its national travel alert advising motorists to stay away from the highway, which partially rings the city.
Jerry Cheskea, spokesman for the AAA, said the alert was lifted in part because of stepped-up patrols for the Thanksgiving weekend and construction of barriers on overpasses. The Florida National Guard began patrols two weeks ago and no violence has been reported since, police said.
Police have made 20 arrests in connection with the highway attacks.