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Boy, 15, Faces 19 Charges as Adult in Connection With Shooting Death of Beloved Memphis Watermelon Vendor

teen charged killing watermelon vendor tennessee
Source: Unsplash; GoFundMe

Jun. 13 2023, Published 2:45 p.m. ET

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A 15-year-old has been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting of a beloved watermelon vendor in Tennessee, according to authorities.

The Shelby County District Attorney's Office says Demarion Tackett will be charged as an adult, reported WHBQ-TV. The station learned during a June 13 court hearing that the teenager faces at least 19 charges in connection with the murder.

On May 15, John Materna, 76, was selling watermelons at the corner of Homer Street and Wayne Avenue in Memphis when he was shot, according to the Memphis Police Department.

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Police said Materna had been selling his watermelons in Memphis for decades.

According to authorities, Materna, known by many as “Red” or the Watermelon Man, was robbed by two men who were seen getting out a silver Infiniti that had a paper tag reading “RETIRED” on it.

Materna’s longtime friend Randall Linn talked to WREG, saying Materna also had a gun, “He (Red) shot back. Don’t know if he hit anybody going down or the car, but I know he was protecting himself as well as the other neighbor.”

On May 29, Materna died after he was taken off life support, officials said.

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Police said Tackett, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, robbery, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, according to the Memphis Police Department.

Police did not mention any details regarding the second suspect.


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