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Florida sheriff defends gun control remarks after teens’ arrests

(NewsNation) — The killings of three teenagers in central Florida has led to the arrest of a 12-year-old and 17-year-old, with a third teenage suspect on the loose.

During a news conference announcing the arrests, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods made a point to mention gun reform, telling media, “All the guns laws we got in place didn’t prevent it, did it?”

That remark, as well as others throughout the news conference, sparked immediate controversy online. He found both critics and supporters.

Defending his comments, Woods said Friday on “CUOMO” that society can do better, but not at the expense of violating the U.S. Constitution.

“There are things you cannot compromise,” he said. “You have a constitutional right to possess a firearm.”

The three suspects are Robert Le’Andrew Robinson, 17; Christopher De’l Atkins, 12; and Tahj Brewton, 16. Robinson and De’l Atkins have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder, while Brewton is still at large.

They are accused of fatally shooting the three teenagers last week.

The first victim was 16-year-old Layla Silvernail, who was found shot near a dumpster. Her partially submerged car was found near her body with the third victim found in the trunk. Police said evidence from her cellphone indicates she was there of her own free will.

The second victim, a 17-year-old boy, was found on the side of the road, dead from a gunshot. Police have not released the names of the second and third victims, though family members told local station WCJB that the third victim was 16-year-old Camille Quarles.

Woods told NewsNation deteriorating family values are to blame for violence among youth. He said parents must stop “coddling” their children.

“We tell them ‘don’t do that,’ the same thing they’ll do it again, ‘don’t do that,’ and after awhile they become conditioned to know that you just tell them don’t do it, but they don’t get any consequences,” he said. “That 12-year-old (who was arrested) is looking for a family unit. He’s influenced by the other particular individuals.”

Calls for gun reform resurfaced most recently following a shooting at Nashville private Christian school where three students and three adults were killed. The shooter was killed by police.

Woods argued more laws are ineffective.

“Here in the state of Florida, a convicted felon cannot possess a firearm. Do you know how many convicted felons we come in contact with that possess a firearm?” he said. “Can we do better? Absolutely we can do better, but better isn’t just focusing on one particular thing.”

Woods said the probable cause affidavit will be released in a short time, and the teens are expected to be tried as adults.

Anyone with information on Brewton’s whereabouts is being urged to come forward.

NewsNation writer Stephanie Whiteside contributed to this report.

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