A Florida teenager has been accused of fatally shooting a fellow 19-year-old, with whom he was involved in an “online relationship,” in order to avoid being outed as gay.
Jakari Webb, who is being held without bail in the Volusia County Jail on a charge of first-degree murder, was arrested on June 29 for allegedly shooting Telan Mann in Daytona Beach on June 23. Webb has also been charged with violating probation and resisting arrest.
Mann was an openly gay individual who allegedly was involved in an “online relationship” with Webb, Daytona Police Chief Jakari Young said in a news conference following the arrest. Young explained that Webb was worried that Mann “either had or was going to post something on social media that would out him,” according to Newsweek.
When the two met for the first time on June 23, Webb allegedly shot and killed Mann, according to charging documents. The charging affidavit claims Webb told police, after his arrest, that Mann had “started saying Webb was gay a couple years ago and that some people began to believe it,” which angered him. Webb also reportedly told police he created a fake Instagram account to “get back” at Mann.
According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, police were first able to identify Webb as a suspect after they discovered a cell phone approximately 10 feet away from where Mann was shot. This was Mann’s phone, and — after receiving permission to search the device from Mann’s sister — police uncovered Instagram messages between Mann and Webb.
The charging affidavit contains details of Instagram messages exchanged between Mann and Webb from June 22-23, with the two teenagers trading more than 170 messages back and forth over a period of time just slightly longer than 2 hours, between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 1:51 a.m.
In the Instagram messages, Webb and Mann tried to arrange a meeting spot, with Webb telling Mann to meet him at a nearby gas station. Mann failed to show up, but suggested Webb walk to a street near his residence. They then traded messages about the clothing they were wearing and tried to find each other.
At 1:51 a.m., Webb asked Mann to “come to side walk,” to which Mann replied “okay.” Mann’s last message to Webb — which was never sent — read: “That’s you hiding.”
Police claim they were able to confirm Webb as the shooter by studying surveillance footage of Webb’s movements that night, which ended with him kneeling behind a grass hill located near where he allegedly agreed to meet Mann, trying to conceal himself from his victim.
Police later arrested Webb at a residence identified through surveillance footage that showed him leaving and returning to a certain property. Upon arriving at the location with a search warrant, Webb initially tried to flee from SWAT and K-9 officers, but was caught after a “brief foot chase,” according to the affidavit.
Police were able to officially confirm Webb’s identity by asking a resident of the property if Webb was the individual seen on the surveillance video. While in police custody, Webb initially told investigators that he and his brother had been “hanging out,” only to be confronted about inconsistencies in his story. After being told police had video of his movements that night, Webb allegedly confessed to shooting Mann, the affidavit claims.
PinkNews reported that, on July 1, Bryan Shorstein, the executive director of the State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s 7th Judicial Circuit, which covers the Daytona Beach metropolitan area, saidd his office is “evaluating” whether the crime could be investigated as a hate crime. He said that “anything is possible at this point.”
Even though — based on the information currently available — Mann’s murder does not appear to meet the necessary criteria to be classified as a “hate crime,” violence against LGBTQ people is hardly an uncommon event in America. Late in the month of June, two transgender women were killed in the same week.
“The violence we face is one of the devastating results of ongoing stigma and discrimination. All of us must step up to end that stigma,” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper said in response to the murders of Shawmaynè Giselle Marie in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Kitty Monroe in Cordova, Tennessee.
“We are people. We have friends and family, passions, hopes and dreams, just like anyone else,” Cooper added. “And we deserve to live our lives fully without discrimination or violence.”
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