26 Oct 2008:
Shooting victim served in Iraq
By Todd Ruger (HeraldTribune.com)
Published: Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 10:11 p.m.
SARASOTA - Delvis Fernandez served eight months with the Marine Reserves in Iraq, often manning a 50-caliber gun on the lead car in dangerous supply convoys.
The 2005 Booker High School graduate returned home to Sarasota in April, where he rejoined his minor league football team and enrolled in classes to prepare for a career in the Sarasota Police Department.
But on his way home from class Friday afternoon, Fernandez, 21, was shot and killed in what police believe was a carjacking in the parking lot of a Newtown convenience store.
"It was in broad daylight for no apparent reason," said Orlando Pacheco, who roomed with Fernandez in Iraq. "We're just in shock right now. It was just like any other day."
Fernandez died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Friday, the day before the final tryouts for the Sarasota Millionaires, a football team that he also used as a conduit to to volunteer in the community.
Police issued a first-degree murder arrest warrant Saturday afternoon for Deandre Tunstall, 18, who was on probation.
Tunstall was arrested in February in connection with another shooting, but he was only convicted of robbery.
Police on Saturday arrested Tunstall's mother, Rose Mary Salem, 41, on a charge of helping her son commit murder.
She drove Tunstall to the Star Mini-Mart, 2950 N. Washington Blvd., just before the shooting at 3:10 p.m., police said.
Salem remained in the Sarasota County Jail on $100,000 bond, while Tunstall remained at large Saturday evening.
Fernandez passed on offers from other police agencies to try to work in Sarasota and stay with his mother, who was his role model for coming to the area from Cuba when he was 7 years old and providing for her three children.
"He was one of those kids who was just an overachiever," said Sarasota Police Capt. Lucius Bonner, who coached Fernandez on Booker's football team. "He had a great work ethic, he was always looking to help other teammates."
Bonner said he felt numb when heard about the shooting.
"It's so senseless. I don't know what to think," Bonner said. "He was bilingual. He would have been a tremendous asset to not only the Police Department, but to the community."
Fernandez got the nickname "White Chocolate" because "he was so cool with the African-American community," said Millionaires co-owner Bethsaida Williams.
"We just had a team meeting on Tuesday; he was so ready for the season," Williams said. "He was so adamant with football. He'd say, 'Mom, when I make it, I'm going to buy you this ... all those dreams."
Fernandez gave back to the community every chance he could, Williams said. The players showed up to tryouts Saturday night just blocks from the scene of the shooting.
After playing with the team its inaugural year, Fernandez had to miss the second season to go to Iraq.
The team put together a highlight film for Fernandez, Williams said.
"At the end, when you do all your credits, we put on, 'We love you Delvis, come home safe.'"
Shooting victim Delvis Fernandez
Suspect Deandre Tunstall
Suspect Rose Mary Salem
29 Oct 2007
We are blessed to have electricity and running water.
110 is the electricity used in our cans. We dont need any food because our chow hall is very good
Yes we do have a laundry service
We dont have a microwave but we do have a refrigerator.
I am the squad leader for 1 squad in our platoon.
We dont have any female soldiers.
Our Px lacks in providing us with cold weather gear. Any cold weather gear will be greatly appreciated. gloves, handwarmers, beanies, sweaters. They must be dark green or black. Our platoon has a game room where the soldiers can go and relax. The only problem is that we lack in entertainment materials. I personally purchased an Xbox-360 so that they could enjoy a little bit of gaming but our Px cant seem to provides us with any fun games. Medal of Honor, Call of duty, Madden 2006 and up. Any sports game would be good since we all love sports. We understand that this is a want and not a need. Please help us as much as possible.
My unit is from Orlando mixed in with New Jersey. My squad and i sit down and enjoy a good game of football but we love to actually play it better. We are a bunch of hard working individuals. We were informed about this website from a friend who you are currently supporting and we decided to try our luck.
Thanks for all your help and we hope to hear from you soon.