Pubdate: Wed, 03 Jan 2007
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Palm Beach Post
Authors: Rochelle E.B. Gilken and Jill Taylor, Palm Beach Post


RIVIERA BEACH - In the last hour of New Year's Day, when the men with
assault rifles fired wildly, a bullet found a baby boy strapped in his
car seat.

Tavares Carter Jr. was shot once in the back and died behind the
passenger seat of a 1998 Oldsmobile at the age of 8 months.

It was a bloody attack, indiscriminate and intense. At least 37 shots
were fired from a sport utility vehicle and five more people were
caught in the cross hairs Monday night.

Two bullets hit Tavares' mother, who is barely 18, in the hand and

Her friend Bettie Ford, also 18, was shot in the back and

Ford's boyfriend, Jason Bell, 23, was caught in the left arm, thigh
and abdomen.

Ira Shaw, 54, was working on a car when he was hit in the right arm
and twice in the right leg.

And Godfrey Pratt, 24, stopped by to ask Shaw to work on another car
stereo when he was caught in the left leg and hip.

They were all in front of a home at 1630 Avenue H West. Witnesses say
a maroon Lincoln Navigator pulled up around 11:30 p.m. and two men
pointed guns out the window, according to the Palm Beach County
Sheriff's Office.

"Unfortunately the innocent victim here, the 8-month-old, was the only
one who couldn't run from the scene," sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller
said. "They were running for their lives."

The adults survived and are hospitalized, some with serious

When police first arrived at the shooting scene, they found marijuana
on the lawn, Miller said.

"This may be retaliation," Miller said. "They were spraying the whole

Tavares' life ended while his mother, Chandell Wiley, is still a
teenager and his father is in the Martin County jail.

Tavares Carter Sr. last saw his son two weeks ago via a video visit.
His contact was restricted due to charges that he tried to hire a hit
man to kill the deputy who arrested him on drug charges.

But in a monitored call on Sunday, he got to hear the little boy
cooing along with the plunking musical sounds of a new Christmas toy
and giggling an occasional "Dada."

"That was goodbye to my son," Carter said, sobbing into his cuffed
hands. "I really didn't get a chance to enjoy my son.

"He didn't have a chance to live yet. He's just a baby."

On Tuesday around 5 a.m., the jail chaplain broke the news to

"I begged him not to tell me," Carter said Tuesday via a
closed-circuit monitor in a jail visitation booth. "I didn't want to

Carter said Wiley and Ford have been friends for years, and he
suspects Wiley just went along for the ride to visit Ford's boyfriend.

Carter said Wiley had no involvement in drugs. She has no arrest
record in Florida.

There were other people at the scene who were not hit. A woman who was
in the Oldsmobile got out of the car to talk on her cellphone just
before the shooting started. Others were in the house.

One of the residents, Donte Robinson, 23, drove most of the gunshot
victims to St. Mary's Medical Center. Wiley was taken by ambulance to
Columbia Hospital, Miller said.

The gunmen apparently were aiming for the home, but it's not clear
whether any of the victims were the intended targets. Only one, Bell,
lives there.

Ford reportedly lived in the Port Salerno area, and her arrest record
indicates she was working at Silhouettes, a strip club in north
Stuart. A manager at the club did not return a telephone message Tuesday.

Carter and Wiley had lived in Hobe Sound, but she may have moved to
the Jupiter area. Shaw is from West Palm Beach. Pratt lives elsewhere
in Riviera Beach.

"It appears as though maybe they were in the wrong place at the wrong
time," Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams said.

The Palm Beach County Violent Crimes Task Force, which includes two
Riviera Beach detectives, is investigating the shooting.

The shooting was less than a mile from city hall, down the street from
a church and a park. It is one of the city's quieter neighborhoods,
Williams said.

But there have been reports of problems with the home at 1630. There
were complaints of open-air drug sales in the area, Williams said. And
a robbery suspect who was being chased by police sought refuge in the
home and was arrested there last year, he said.

It is a single-story, white brick home with purple trim, Christmas
lights and two white plastic chairs on the front porch.

The Oldsmobile apparently was parked in the driveway, behind two other
cars under the carport, but was moved to a spot on the street after
the shooting, Miller said.

Robinson and Bell both have a history of drug arrests.

When Williams returned to the scene Tuesday morning, there was a shell
casing from a high-powered gun in the grass at his feet. He suspected
it was left behind in the shooting.

Only 2312 hours into the year, this was the first homicide for Palm
Beach County in 2007, coming only two hours before the second homicide
- - a 26-year-old man shot in front of his mobile home west of Lake Worth
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