16-Year-Old Palm Coast Boy Faces Felony Charges in Stabbing of Two 13-Year-Olds
Brandon Gray Jr., a 16-year-old resident of Fort Caroline Lane in Palm Coast, faces three juvenile felony charges following the July 30 stabbing with a pocketknife of two boys, both 13, along a trail linking Blairsville Drive in the Woodlands to Palm Coast Parkway. Cell phone video of the stabbing circulated on social media and helped detectives’ investigation.
John, one of the victims, was stabbed three times–in the leg, the hand and the back–and the other, Frank, was stabbed in the abdomen and the leg. Both were taken to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach. The Sheriff’s Office reported that their injuries were not life-threatening.
An investigation led by Flagler County Sheriff’s detective Adam Gossett and the Major Crimes unit began immediately after both victims and Gray called 911, Gray to say he’d stabbed the two children in self-defense, the alleged victims to say they’d been attacked by Gray. The following is based on Gossett’s investigation, which included interviews with both 13-year-olds and a juvenile witness, Lenny, and Gray, among others.
Late Sunday afternoon, Lenny was at Gray’s house, where he saw him put Italian seasoning in a baggie–seasoning Gray would later pass off as marijuana. The pair decided to walk to Island Walk to buy a new cell phone for Lenny. When they found the store closed, they kept walking to the Woodlands, getting there by way of a cut-through kids refer to as the “trail.” They walked to John’s house, where John and Frank were playing video games.
Gray knocked on the door. Lenny stayed back, having had some issues with John before. John opened the door. Gray and John had a history of bad blood, too, their last fight taking place at Ralph Carter Park near Rymfire Elementary some two months ago. Gray was trying to sell John some pot for $50 (actually, the seasoning he was passing off as pot). John told him he didn’t have any money. Frank heard them start arguing, he didn’t know hat about. But Gray had told John that they should all “take this to the trail.”
So John and Gray started walking, with Lenny and Frank following behind. As they walked, John and Gray continued arguing, with John trying to find out if Gray had a weapon. Frank would later tell detectives that he told Lenny to start recording on his phone (though later detectives were to locate video of the encounter on John’s phone, not Lenny’s).
Before long, the confrontation between Gray and John became physical. Lenny said John threw a punch. John said all he did was grab Gray’s shoulder with force and turn him around. Frank just saw John fall backward after the argument escalated. Either way, Gray took out a knife and stabbed John in the leg (according to John). Frank ran to help John, only to get stabbed in the abdomen and the leg before he ran away. John tried to hold Gray’s armed hand down, but Gray pulled off, slashing John’s hand and stabbing John a third time in the back as he was running away.
In Gray’s interview with detectives, Gray initially claimed John and Frank randomly attacked him, but then conceded that he’d gone to John’s house to sell him a combination of pot and Italian seasoning. When John told him he didn’t have money, Gray said he and Lenny left, but were umped by John and Frank along the trail, and when Gray saw John attack Lenny, Gray came to Lenny’s defense–with the pocketknife. He said that’s when he stabbed both 13-year-olds. But he insisted it was all self-defense.
The next day, fragmented video of the assault began surfacing on SnapChat, showing Frank running away after he was stabbed and capturing Gray stabbing John. Detectives located the video on Frank’s phone. Detectives then determined that Gray had been the aggressor. A judge signed a warrant today, and Gray was arrested at his home in the F Section. A deputy at one point edged him around a patrol car so his younger siblings, who were looking out a window, wouldn't see him in handcuffs.
“You’re still a juvenile at the end of the day. Whatever happens when you turn 18, this is significantly worse,” Gossett is seen and heard telling Gray in a brief body cam video the Sheriff’s Office released today. “That being said, I’m not going to be your parent. I know they’re going to try to do what they can. But your choices are your choices. You understand what I’m saying? In the future, you need to start making rational decisions.” Gray is not easily audible, but appears to mumble something about who he was with. “You are who your friends are, and that is 100 percent through life,” Gossett tells him.
“You’re the big brother of those little girls, and they’re going to look up to you, so you need to make sure you things right even if it doesn’t benefit you.”
Gray was then placed in the patrol car. He was taken to the county jail for processing, pending a decision from the Department of Juvenile Justice, which either detains juveniles–especially when they have been charged with a violent crime–or remands them to their parents’ custody pending court proceedings. Gray is charged with two counts of Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon (one count for each juvenile victim) and the use or display of a weapon during a felony.
“Like Detective Gossett tells Gray in the video, kids become who they hang out with,” said Sheriff Rick Staly. “Committing a crime by selling a mixture of Italian seasoning and illegal weed is a recipe for disaster and escalating violence, as we saw in this case. Parents, be the Sheriff in your home and know who your kids are hanging out with and what they are doing, so they don’t make life-changing mistakes at a young age.”