Carl Lee Martin was remembered on Christmas Eve by friends and neighbors as a good athlete and someone who made others smile.
Martin, 15, died Thursday night when Demontray Lovett, 18, of St. Petersburg accidently fired a .40-caliber handgun from the back seat of a stolen minivan, St. Petersburg police said. The bullet went through the right front passenger seat and hit Martin in the torso. Lovett and Martin were part of a group of five people in the van headed for St. Pete Beach, investigators said.
On Saturday, many neighbors at the Citrus Grove Apartments on 15th Street S, where Martin lived with his mother and siblings, were solemn.
“He was a good person. He made everybody laugh,” said neighbor Melanee Rogers.
Martin, she said, was very close to his family and often played football with his younger siblings.
Martin’s Facebook page was filled Saturday with messages from friends who said they will miss him and that life can change so fast. He attended Pinellas Secondary School.
“He was one of the older guys I would see telling younger ones to do what’s right,” said James Smith, a pastor at Campbell Park Community Church who led a basketball outreach program that included Martin.
In May, Martin was charged with robbery but the case was later dropped, state records show.
[Editor’s Note: Carl Martin’s Facebook page paints a different picture from that of this article. See here for excerpts.]