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Florida gang member shot, killed pastor’s son outside church: sheriff

Florida gang member shot, killed pastor’s son outside church: sheriff

Investigators in Florida are trying to determine what led an alleged gang member to shoot and kill a pastor’s son in a church parking lot over the weekend.

Taquion “Quan” Cotton, 22, is charged with murdering Roderick Wilson, Jr., 20, outside the Pentecostal Church of God in Winter Haven. Wilson was the son of the pastor at the church and was living in an apartment on church property, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

Deputies received a report of a body from a passerby just before 2 a.m. Sunday. When they arrived, they found Wilson dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

During a press conference Monday, Sheriff Grady Judd said Cotton drove up to the church and had an initial confrontation with Wilson out in the street where there was pushing and talking, but Cotton drove away. 

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20-year old Roderick Wilson, Jr.

The shooting victim, 20-year old Roderick Wilson, Jr., was found the morning on Oct. 22, 2023, lying in the parking lot of a Winter Haven church. (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Judd said video from later on shows Cotton drove back to the church where he and Wilson had “further words” in the parking lot before Cotton shot and killed Wilson. Detectives believe Wilson was lying in the parking lot for nearly an hour before someone discovered him.

Wilson was described as a “good kid” with no criminal history. He worked at the church for his dad, Judd said.

“Quan on the other hand, has had 11 felony arrests, 6 misdemeanor arrests, a total of 17 criminal charges but yet he has no felony convictions,” Judd said.

Authorities said Cotton’s vehicle was quickly identified by PCSO’s homicide team. The suspect’s mother is credited for assisting deputies on leads of where to possibly find Cotton. 

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22-year old Taquion

The shooting suspect,  22-year old Taquion “Quan” Cotton, lives a couple streets over from the church, PCSO says. (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Sheriff Grady Judd holds up victim, suspect photos

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd held a news conference on the alleged murder on Oct. 23, 2023.  (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Cotton was located not far from the original murder scene. As he was approached by deputies to be apprehended Sunday afternoon, he allegedly ran up to a woman at her house, placed her in a chokehold, and tried to enter the residence. Deputies and Cotton’s mother fought with him to get him into custody, and he bit his mother during the process, Judd said. 

The firearm involved in the shooting has not been located, and PCSO is offering $5,000 to the person who hands it over. Investigators are still trying to determine why Cotton and Wilson had the initial confrontation, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward. 

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“Roderick was a Christian boy, and he loved the Lord. Now, unfortunately, he got to see the Lord face to face a lot sooner than I’m sure he wanted to or should have,” Judd said. “But, we have to bring justice through our system to the Roderick Wilson Jr. family.” 

Cotton was charged with first-degree murder, burglary with battery, kidnapping, battery-domestic with prior conviction, harassing in a felony proceeding, resisting with violence, tampering with physical evidence, discharging a firearm in a residential area and resisting without violence.

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