by Robert A. Waters
In my hometown of Ocala, Florida, Jeffrey Tyrone Smith lived for cocaine. Like many addicts, he robbed and stole to support his habit. He had a long list of arrests, including convictions for cocaine possession, credit card fraud, burglary, domestic battery, grand theft, larceny, and violation of probation. On April 6, 2015, he was free on bond while facing a charge of false imprisonment.
That afternoon, Smith met with two Gainesville men, allegedly to sell them a truck. The vehicle was non-existent, of course. Smith planned to rob them, as he’d done six days earlier with another victim.
After so many arrests and convictions, Smith thought he’d finally figured out how to make crime pay without getting caught.
He would respond to advertisements of people who wanted to purchase a vehicle, robbing them when they met. His first Craigslist robbery had been a roaring success—he netted $1,800.
Then Smith made the mistake of attempting to duplicate his crime.
What he didn’t know was that one of his would-be Gainesville victims came armed. According to the Ocala Post, “The victim with the gun stated that his friend then exited the vehicle and walked toward the backyard with Smith [to look at the truck he claimed to have for sale].
“The victim stated that all of a sudden he heard his friend yell, ‘Son of a b***h.’ He said that is when he saw his friend bending over in pain, like he had been punched in the stomach.
“At this point, the victim did not know that his friend had been stabbed.
“The victim told deputies that Smith then turned and ran toward him, at which time he drew his gun and fired a single shot, striking Smith.
“According to the victim, Smith fell to the ground, but continued to try and get up to come at him. The victim said he told Smith to stay down.”
Smith eventually fled the scene, but was quickly captured.
Both Smith and the stabbing victim were hospitalized. After Smith is released, he will be held without bond and charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and two counts of robbery with a weapon. If convicted, it will likely be many years before Smith is released from prison.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office will not charge the shooter with any crime.