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Teen Shot and Killed While Protecting Friend Hours After Being Saved and Baptized

De’mari Jackson
Screengrab via Instagram @The Rock Church Of Fort Myers

De’mari Jackson (16) was shot and killed on Sunday April 24, 2022, around 8:15 pm after protecting a friend from gunfire that erupted after a group of teenage girls started fighting in a nearby field.

Wayne Sloss, Administrative Pastor of The Rock Church of Fort Myers, shared with The Christian Post that hours before Jackson’s tragic death the teenager had attended the church for the first time that Sunday morning and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

Rev. Gerardo Diaz’s message the morning Jackson surrendered his life to Jesus was telling those in the congregation “that if you want something, then you’ve got to go full forward and get it. And when God’s calling you toward salvation, which is the first step toward our walk with God, don’t delay,” Sloss recalled.

“Today is the day of salvation. You don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring,” Sloss said, “And then to find out that he gets shot and passes away that evening, I mean, it emphasizes that point so incredibly. And you’re just shocked. All these things run through your head.”

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Jackson, along his two brothers and a cousin, all went to church Sunday and were baptized. His brother Derek said Jackson rarely attended church and “when he finally did, he got baptized.” His brother explained that before Jackson got baptized, “He came to see me because I’m his big brother. It’s pretty hard. I’m happy he got baptized. But this really is random.”

Just hours after his baptism, Jackson would be pronounced dead after he was allegedly shot by 19-year-old Syncere Trice, a football standout from South Fort Myers High School.

Trice is the brother of one of the girls involved in the fight that took place in the field. Reportedly, he appeared at the scene of the fight after his sister told one girl to get him. Nine rounds were shot toward the group of girls his sister had been fighting.

Jackson was on the porch of a nearby home talking to a girl he had previously dated when she says she witnessed Trice pulling out the gun and firing it at one girl’s father who was approaching the fight. The dad fled back into the house, avoiding the intended gunshots, but Jackson, who wasn’t involved in the altercation, was fatally hit.

According to reports, Jackson placed himself in front of the girl and told her to run. He then started running too, but fell to the ground after one of the bullets hit him. Jackson was still wearing his church clothes.

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Paramedics rushed Jackson to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

Fort Myers Police Department charged Trice with second-degree murder and is currently in jail without bond.

“He was a first-time guest,” Sloss said of Jackson. “He just came in. You know, and then being told that he was protecting…helping people and ended up getting shot in the process, it’s just so mind-blowing to think. It just brings a level of reality to life.”