The last week of classes before summer break should be a joyous time at Robinson High. Instead, students spent Monday mourning the loss of Kiara Brito, a beloved junior at the school.
And as they grieved for the 16-year-old, her family was at Tampa General Hospital, where Kiara's brother, Jeremi Brito, died Monday afternoon.
The teen siblings were shot multiple times Sunday morning at their Interbay home during a home invasion that remains under investigation, Tampa police said.
Tampa police detained Charles Stephan Waits, 19, of Riverview, and brought him in for questioning about the case at 7:20 p.m. Monday. Laura McElroy, a police spokeswoman, said detectives believe he may have information regarding the double homicide.
Police had an active warrant for the arrest of Waits on cocaine possession, McElroy said. Just after 8 p.m. he was booked into jail and charged with possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is scheduled for a first court appearance Tuesday morning.
Waits was a starting running back at Spoto High his senior year. He graduated from the school last year. Before transferring to Spoto, he attended and played football at Tampa Bay Tech, said Spoto High football coach Dale Caparso.
Javarias Hubbard, Kiara Brito's boyfriend, said he was in the hospital room with Jeremi Brito's mother, father, aunt and a school teacher when he died. Jeremi and Kiara's mother, Judy Brito, laid next to her son in the hospital bed and sobbed as she held his hand, Hubbard said.
"It's just tough to see somebody that you love so much gone," Hubbard said.
Hubbard said Jeremi Brito, a student at Madison Middle School, was like a brother. He regularly rode his bicycle, go-kart and four wheeler in the neighborhood. On weekends, he would swim at a pool with friends, go to the movies or buy ice cream with his sister, Hubbard said.
Kiara Brito played on Robinson's varsity basketball team and was very involved in school, said Robinson High Principal Laura Zavatkay.
Robinson students are doing as well as can be expected in the face of grief, said Chuck Jaksec, a school social worker who came to the school on Monday in addition to several grief counselors.
"There's a lot of questions on why would something like this happen," Jaksec said. "It's very, very sad, and it's hard to get answers."
Jaksec said grief counselors met with several students, including members of the basketball team.
Robinson High girls basketball coach Jess Vitale said she was a good student and a competitive player who kept an emotional balance on the court.
Police said they are working several active leads in the double shooting that rocked the neighborhood around 3021 Van Buren Drive, between Bayshore Boulevard and South MacDill Avenue.
Investigators believe the home was targeted and the invasion was not a random act. The shooting occurred a few minutes before 6 a.m. Sunday.
The teens, who lived with their mother, were the only ones in the home during the attack, McElroy said.
There was no forced entry into the home. The children were awake and "in a main part of the house" when they were shot, McElroy said. When investigators arrived, the house was in a state of disarray.
Police are investigating a related shooting scene Sunday about 400 feet away, at MacDill and Van Buren. A bullet hole was discovered in the passenger window of a small yellow school bus there. No one was injured in that shooting.
Police wouldn't say why either shooting occurred or which incident occurred first.
Neighbors say Judy Brito gave her children lots of loving attention.
"When I would see Judy in the afternoon, I would ask her to come over, but she always said she couldn't," said Anna Martin, who lives two doors down from the Brito family. "She had to cook supper."
Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.
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