Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
Cops Raid TikTok Stars’ Home, Arrest Friend Accused Of Shooting That Killed 8-Year-Old Girl
Andrew James Thomas was arrested after detectives say he shot a child in a drive-by shooting on Friday evening.
Authorities in Florida raided the home of two TikTok stars and arrested their friend in connection with a drive-by shooting that killed an 8-year-old child.
On Monday, Andrew James Thomas, 20, was arrested for the murder of a child who was shot during a drive-by last Friday in Belle Glade, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Thomas’ arrest came after a SWAT team descended on the home of Alex and Franky Venegas in Coral Springs, authorities told TMZ.
The Venegas twins, known as "The Island Boys,” are a rap duo that has garnered billions of views on TikTok. According to ABC affiliate WPBF, the TikTok star’s manager, Dovi Bezner, said that Thomas was the brothers’ childhood friend and had been crashing on their couch for a few nights.
“We had no idea any of this was going on, really,” said Bezner. “We just knew him as a quiet kid, and he would come and hang out and do his thing and go back to whatever he got going on, but we had no clue about any of those allegations toward him. We just knew him as a good person, someone who grew up with the Island Boys.”
On Friday, deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 500 block of SE 1st Street in Belle Glade after reports of a shooting.They found the 8-year-old girl suffering from one or more gunshot wounds when they arrived.
The child was taken to the hospital, where she was listed in critical condition, according to the sheriff’s statement. She succumbed to her injuries later in the evening.
Relatives came forward and identified the victim as Ronziyah Atkins, according to WPBF and People.
The child’s godbrother, Deante Crawford, told WPBF that he heard Ronziyah telling family to get inside when shots rang out at around 7:15 p.m.
Thomas’s arrest came after a tireless investigation by the Palm Beach Violent Crimes Division and Gang Unit detectives, who worked with “cooperating witnesses” to identify the shooter. An arrest warrant was issued with assistance from the Coral Springs Police Department, where the Venegas twins reside.
Authorities in Palm Beach stated Coral Springs Police “currently had charges on the suspect” when they made the arrest.
“If we know anything like this was going on, we wouldn’t have allowed him on the property,” continued Bezner.
Alex Venegas told police that Thomas ran toward him in the hallway with a black handgun when the SWAT team knocked on the door, according to TMZ. Alex claimed Thomas tried to give him the gun, but the TikTok star refused to take it. By Alex’s account, Thomas took the firearm into the laundry room and returned empty-handed.
Authorities told TMZ they found the handgun in the laundry room.
It was not clear if Franky Venegas was home at the time of Thomas’s arrest. Neither one of the brothers was charged with a crime.
Thomas was booked into the Broward County Jail and charged with first-degree murder with a firearm, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, and felon in possession of a firearm, according to authorities.
Detectives don’t believe the child was the intended target of the shooting, reported The Palm Beach Post. Authorities say the investigation is still in the preliminary stages and that more information will be released when it becomes available.
“It’s just a shame. It’s a tragedy,” Ronziyah’s grandmother, Melissa McGee, told WPBF. “She was just lovable. She was just a sweet baby.”