Investigation continues into murder of Lakeland teen - WNCT

Investigation continues into murder of Lakeland teen

Posted: Updated:
Area where 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found early Saturday. Area where 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found early Saturday.
Area where 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found early Saturday. Area where 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found early Saturday.
Area where 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found early Saturday. Area where 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found early Saturday.
Area where 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found early Saturday. Area where 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found early Saturday.
Morris Chestang has lived in his Lakeland neighborhood since 1971 and said recently its safety has become threatened. Chestang lives near where the body of a 17-year-old man was found Saturday morning. Police ruled it a homicide. Morris Chestang has lived in his Lakeland neighborhood since 1971 and said recently its safety has become threatened. Chestang lives near where the body of a 17-year-old man was found Saturday morning. Police ruled it a homicide.
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Lakeland Police are investigating whether the Saturday morning murder of a 17-year-old may have been gang related.

Police say 17-year-old Damarco Powell was found dead in a ditch east of the railroad tracks at Atline Road early Saturday morning. His mother had reported him missing only a couple of hours before.

A passerby noticed the body and alerted authorities. Police aren't saying how Powell died.

And while police aren't officially calling Saturday's homicide gang-related, they do say it's something they're looking into.

From his backyard, Morris Chestang sees people walk through the Atline Road shortcut every day.

“My son went through there for years when he was going to school,” Chestang said.

But in his more than 40 years living in the neighborhood, he's noticed lately the traffic is changing.

“It’s still a shortcut for most people. But for a few, it's an opportunity to commit some sort of crime,” he said.

The signs are clear: graffiti clutters the fencing intended to keep people out. And no matter how many times a barrier goes up-it comes back down.

It's gone from an eye-sore to a serious concern, especially after Saturday's killing.

Lakeland PD’s Sgt. Gary Gross said many suspect gang-activity led to the homicide.

“We're not saying either way- but it's something we're looking at,” Gross said.

The suspicions are based mostly off the Facebook page of the victim, 17-year-old Damarco Powell, whose photos primarily show him with guns, making signs, and showing off what appears to be drugs.

“That doesn't always mean just because a young man is dressed like a gang member or show the signs that he's a gang member,” Gross said. “Sometimes they want to represent themselves as something that they're not. We’re not going to use that as information only. We're going to dig and dig and dig,” Gross added.

That kind of police work is just what Morris Chestang wants. He hopes it will help bring back the neighborhood he remembers.

“It has been as a history very safe and quiet, however we have been slowly sliding downhill through more and more problems,” Chestang said.

Copyright 2014 WFLA  All Rights Reserved

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Friday, April 18 2014 7:41 PM EDT2014-04-18 23:41:35 GMT

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.


  • Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:02:51 GMT
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
  • Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Friday, April 18 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:52:20 GMT
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Polk County deputies searching for Winter Haven man

    Polk County deputies searching for Winter Haven man

    Saturday, April 19 2014 8:44 PM EDT2014-04-20 00:44:05 GMT
    Polk County sheriff's deputies are asking for the public's help to locate Travis "Pinky Barrientos of Winter Haven.Deputies said a warrant has been issued for Barrientos' arrest for attempted second degree murder. He is considered armed and dangerous.Early Saturday morning Barrientos and 32-year-old Juan Bautista got into an altercation on Rifle Range Road in Wahneta, a Polk County Sheriff's Office news release stated. Barrientos stabbed Bautista several times and threatened his life/Bautista...
    Polk County sheriff's deputies are asking for the public's help to locate Travis "Pinky Barrientos of Winter Haven.Deputies said a warrant has been issued for Barrientos' arrest for attempted second degree murder. He is considered armed and dangerous.Early Saturday morning Barrientos and 32-year-old Juan Bautista got into an altercation on Rifle Range Road in Wahneta, a Polk County Sheriff's Office news release stated. Barrientos stabbed Bautista several times and threatened his life/Bautista...
  • 10 more bodies found inside sunken ferry by divers

    10 more bodies found inside sunken ferry by divers

    Saturday, April 19 2014 8:42 PM EDT2014-04-20 00:42:24 GMT
    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into...
    Divers recovered 13 bodies from inside a ferry that sank off South Korea, pushing the confirmed death toll to 46, officials said Sunday. The discovery came after rescuers finally gained access to the inside of the ship...
  • Mrs. Obama to appear on May episode of 'Nashville'

    Mrs. Obama to appear on May episode of 'Nashville'

    Saturday, April 19 2014 7:22 PM EDT2014-04-19 23:22:39 GMT
    Michelle Obama is going a little bit country.
    Michelle Obama is going a little bit country.
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.