5 arrested in shooting that killed 3, including corrections officer, in Kendall

Victims were leaving graduation party when drive-by shooting occurred, police say

KENDALL, Fla. – Five men have been arrested nearly two years after a shooting outside a graduation party in Kendall left three people dead and five others injured, authorities announced Friday.

Willie Lee Thomas III, 21, Melchelzadek Jacory Matthews, 21, and Jeremy Emmanuel Devine, 22, face second-degree murder charges.

James Albert Johnson III, 20, faces charges of possession of cannabis with the intent to sell while armed, and Aaron Joseph Clermont, also 20, faces various other charges, including possession of a short-barrel shotgun, rifle or machine gun, possession of a controlled substance while armed, possession of marijuana while armed and grand theft.

Police said Clermont was found with several stolen credit and debit cards when he was taken into custody Thursday.

Thomas was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia, while Matthews was arrested in Fort Myers. Both are awaiting extradition to Miami-Dade County.

Willie Lee Thomas III. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

“I am incredibly proud of my detectives for their hard work and dedication in capturing the individuals responsible for the senseless shooting at the Hookah Lounge during a graduation party,” Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said in a statement. “I understand how important it is for families to receive closure and justice when their loved ones have been victimized. I want to thank our local, state, and federal partners for their unwavering commitment to serving and protecting our community. I will continue to utilize all my resources to create a safe and healthy society where gun violence is no longer a threat to individuals and members of the community.”

According to Miami-Dade police, a group of people were gathered outside the Hookah Lounge in the area of Southwest 109th Court and 107th Street around 2:20 a.m. on June 6, 2021, when people inside several vehicles opened fire at them and fled the scene.

The Florida Department of Corrections identified Corrections Officer Tyleisha Taylor as one of the victims who was killed in the shooting.

Corrections Officer Tyleisha Taylor. (WPLG)

We don’t forget our families that are left behind,” said Ramirez. “We hear the cries of the mothers in the street, especially that one of those victims was a corrections officer--part of our law enforcement family who lost her life.”

Police said the victims were leaving a graduation party when they were shot at.

Taylor and two men were killed in the shooting and five people were wounded.

Relatives identified one of the men who was killed as William Everett.

They said Everett, a father of a then-3-year-old boy, was fatally shot inside a bullet-riddled vehicle that crashed into a wall at Miami Dade College on Southwest 104th Street, across from where the shooting took place.

Relatives also told Local 10 News the second person killed inside that vehicle was Everett’s 18-year-old cousin who goes by the name Kheen.

“After almost two years of dedicated collaboration between my team of Assistant State Attorneys and the Miami-Dade Police Department Homicide Detectives, those responsible for the tragic deaths during what was supposed to be a night of celebration, are finally being brought to justice,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. “The over a dozen warrants that my prosecutors generated and filed assisted the difficult work of our law enforcement partners gathering the necessary information and leads that have resulted in these arrests and the filing of criminal charges. It is my hope that the families of the victims may now begin their journey of healing and find the justice they so deserve.”

About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.