Polk County Sheriff identifies 15-year-old shot, killed in Winter Haven

WINTER HAVEN — Polk County Sheriff’s office has identified the 15-year-old boy found dead in a Winter Haven driveway Tuesday.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Quashawn Burgess Jr. lived in Bartow with his mother and an infant. Burgess has family members who live in Lakeland, Judd said, but it was not clear how he got to Winter Haven or what he was doing there.

“My question was, ‘Where’s your 15-year-old son in the middle of the night? Why isn’t he home in bed?’,” Judd said. “Mom thought he was home in bed.”

Also: Auburndale man brandishing knife shot, killed by officers Tuesday

Judd said Burgess’ mother last saw him alive around 10 p.m. Monday sitting on the couch playing games on his cell phone. The mother woke up around 3 a.m. to tend to her baby, according to Judd, and noticed Burgess was no longer sitting on the couch assumed he had gone to bed.

“As far as she knew, [Burgess] was home in bed asleep,” he said.

In fact, by that time, Burgess had been shot and lying dead in a driveway off St. Paul Drive in Winter Haven. His body was discovered by a woman visiting a friend around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Burgess had serving probation since May for a misdemeanor charge of a burglary that had been reduced to a trespass violation, Judd said. One of the conditions of Burgess’ probation was he was supposed to be enrolled in school.

Burgess had not been enrolled or attending school, according to Judd, violating the terms of his probation. This raises additional questions to be answered by the Department of Juvenile Justice from the sheriff’s office.

“Some of our questions of DJJ probation is, ‘Had you violated him and put him in juvenile detention he wouldn’t have been on the street to be murdered last night’,” Judd said.

The sheriff’s office has obtained surveillance camera footage from a neighbor on St. Paul Drive. Judd declined to say what the video showed, but said it gives reason to believe Burgess knew the person who shot him.

Burgess had been formally identified as a known gang member on Monday, one day before his murder, according to Judd. The sheriff’s office could not provide immediate information on what details or incidents had resulted in 15-year-old being labeled as a gang member.

A $5,000 cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can contact Heartland Crime Stoppers in one of four ways:

  • CALL 800-226 TIPS (8477)

  • DIAL **TIPS from your cell phone

  • VISIT www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit A Tip,”

  • DOWNLOAD the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.

Sara-Megan Walsh can be reached at swalsh@theledger.com or 863-802-7545. Follow on X @SaraWalshFl.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Polk County Sheriff identifies 15-year-old shot, killed in Winter Haven

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