Three best friends killed after being beaten and shot while out fishing in Florida may have been the victims of a targeted attack, police say.
Damion Tillman, 23; Keven Springfield, 30; and Brandon Rollins, 27, all died in the Friday night massacre. They were found by the father of one of the men who managed to call for help just before he died.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said: ‘You don’t just stumble upon somebody out here.’ He described the crime scene as ‘the worst I have ever seen’.
The three men were fishing at a popular lake in Frostproof, 70 miles south of Orlando in central Florida.
Three men were murdered by Lake Streety in Frostproof, Florida, on Friday night
Tillman traveled to Lake Streety first and arrived by himself, according to sheriff Judd.
When Rollins and Springfield arrived soon after, Tillman was being beaten by unknown attackers, and the two friends intervened to help Tillman and were shot.
Rollins called his father at about 10pm Friday and managed to only say ‘help.’
The father jumped into his car and went to where his son had said he was going fishing.
‘When he arrived he found his son Brandon barely alive, and his two friends deceased,’ the sheriff’s office said in a press release.
‘Brandon was able to say a few things to his dad, which we are not releasing at this time.’
Rollins’ father had left his home without his cellphone, so he returned to a nearby gas station and called 911, the sheriff’s office said.
‘I was just so upset last night, I just didn’t know what to do,’ said Cyril Rollins, the father of Brandon.
‘We heard some background and they fussing all that,’ he told WFLA 8.
‘But I left, I went on out here. When I got there I was looking for my son. It was a mess.
‘I found my son. I was holding him he was telling me what happened but I was too shocked to know what was going on.’
When authorities arrived at the scene, all three men were dead.
‘This is a horrific scene,’ said Judd.
‘I’ve been to a lot of murder scenes in my life and this ranks among the worst I’ve been to.’
The sheriff said they believe there was more than one killer, and that the victims knew their murderers.
‘We are seeking leads; we need help so we can solve this crime sooner rather than later because there are one or more, we suspected more, murderers that killed three people in a quiet community,’ he said.
Judd added that the suspect or suspects may have known the men.
‘You don’t just stumble upon somebody out here,’ he said. ‘It’s not like there’s a lot of people around here. As you can see, it’s cow pastures and lakes.’
Grady Judd, sheriff of Polk Country, said the ‘horrific’ scene was among the worst he’d seen
Police have issued a $5,000 reward for information over the attack.
Rollins’s girlfriend Jessica Steenson told WFLA 8 that the sheriff promised to find the killers.
‘That he will not stop until justice is served for them three boys, my boyfriend, and his two best friends,’ she said.
‘I moved here from Jacksonville, Florida, for him two years ago and this is not how it was supposed to be and I want justice for him. And I will not stop until he gets it.’
Dottie Payton, Rollins’s mother, said she too wants justice to be done.
‘I want it to be served the right way and I’m sure they’re out there watching and seeing what’s going on and they need to come forward,’ she said.