A 19-year-old man in Florida has been arrested for a Thanksgiving day shooting that left a 74-year-old grandmother dead and two others injured, authorities say. Lonnie Bee Smalls III was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with one count of first degree murder in the fatal shooting of Mattie Lou Jones.
Smalls is also facing an additional three counts of first-degree attempted murder.
According to a press release from the Stuart Police Department, Smalls used a handgun to shoot and killed the retired grandmother on Thursday, Nov. 24, at the intersection of Southeast Spruce Street and Southeast 10 Street. Police say that Jones was sitting inside of her living room watching television, when she was suddenly struck by a bullet allegedly fired from Smalls’ firearm.
Smalls also shot two other victims who survived their injuries, authorities allege.
“Since then, detectives from the Stuart Police Department, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, and surrounding Treasure Coast agencies have helped investigate this case as it expanded into other jurisdictions,” the release states.
Police say that Smalls fired multiple rounds at the victims.
SPD Lt. Michael Gerwan reportedly said that Jones was not the intended target in the shooting and was just “an innocent person sitting in her living room,” according to a report by the Treasure Coast Palm newspaper.
Gerwan said investigators believed the other two victims were passengers in the same car and were likely targeted in the shooting. Jones’ grandson reportedly told the newspaper that Jones was eating dinner next to her son when she sustained the fatal gunshot wound.
Taken into custody on the day that Jones was killed, Smalls has remained behind bars for his alleged involvement in the shooting since that time; however, he was not formally charged with her murder until Thursday.
Smalls was initially identified as the alleged shooter less than two hours after the incident. He was arrested less than six hours later when deputies with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and SPD officers executed a search warrant in Indiantown, a village with a population of 6,560 residents at the time of the 2020 census. Smalls has been charged with one count of violation of probation, and he has been held without bond. So he would not pose a threat to the community, police say.
According to the release, investigators executed multiple search warrants and utilized a variety of “investigative techniques” and “laboratory forensics” in the case.
“This arrest brings me some closure, and I hope some closure for the Jones family,” SPD Chief of Police Joseph Tumminelli said in a statement. “The Stuart Police Department is continuing with the investigation, and more information will be available in the future. I would like to thank the public for your patience and understanding in this case. Criminals do not have rules, but law enforcement investigators do. I am optimistic that there will be more to follow.”
Authorities emphasized that the investigation into the Thanksgiving Day shooting remains ongoing.
(Image of Smalls via SPD]
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