Three shootings that left three teenagers dead in Florida are all connected and may be tied to “wannabe gang” activity, authorities said Tuesday.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said authorities are investigating "multiple suspects" following a string of shootings last week.
The first victim, Layla Silvernail, 16, was found Thursday bleeding from a gunshot wound by the side of a road in Marion County, about 60 miles northwest of Orlando. Silvernail was taken to the hospital in critical condition and has since died, Woods said at a news conference Tuesday.
On Friday morning, authorities said a 17-year-old boy was discovered lying beside a road with a fatal gunshot wound a few miles from where Silvernail was found.
The third victim, another 16-year-old girl, was found dead Saturday inside Silvernail’s vehicle, which was partly submerged at the edge of a nearby body of water, authorities said. She also had a fatal gunshot wound.
In a video address posted Monday, Woods said a serial killer is not involved, debunking what he said was a widely circulated rumor on social media.
“That is far from the truth,” he said. “We are devastated for the families of these three teens, and we are dedicated to bringing whoever is responsible for these heinous acts to justice.”
Woods said Tuesday the three victims were friends and were together leading up to their deaths. He said the murders may be tied to "wannabe gang" activity.
Detectives got a “number of investigative tips and information that rules out the possibility that this is a serial killer,” sheriff’s spokesperson Zach Moore said.
“Due to the nature of this investigation, we are not at liberty to go into detail about how they are linked,” Moore said.
Woods said there was no evidence of a fourth victim, and he urged community members to come forward with information as his detectives are “diligently following up on every potential lead.”
“We’re gonna get ’em," he said.