PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — A Louisville teen was killed and another was injured after a shooting early Tuesday morning near a resort in Panama City Beach.
The Panama City Beach Police Department said two step-brothers, both 14 years old, were on vacation from the Louisville area when they were shot near the Shores of Panama resort around 1:30 a.m.
Police said one teen was found dead at the scene, while another was taken to a nearby hospital.
The mother of the surviving teen, a Moore Middle School student, said Tuesday afternoon her son has been treated and discharged from the hospital.
She wanted to share details of what happened, but did not want to identify herself or her son, and his stepbrothers family, by name. She said the family vacation had just started in Panama City Beach.
"I had just talked to him earlier that night and he had sent me pictures of them on the beach and the ocean and playing on boogie boards," she said. "And then I got the call at five o'clock this morning that they both had been shot."
She said she and her mother would be driving down to Florida Tuesday evening to be with her son and his stepbrother's family.
"Obviously he's in complete shock. He wants to come home."
The mom also described what she knew of the events surrounding the shooting.
"The boys were just sitting on the beach. They were being typical boys. They were listening to music on YouTube and a man approached them and asked them for a cigarette. Of course they're children so they said no," she said. "Not really sure what set the man off but he asked them to get up and walk towards the water and that he was going to shoot them."
The teen's mother said her son's stepbrother saved his life during the incident.
"He spared his life for his brother. He jumped in front of his brother and did everything he could to protect him and he saved his life," she said. "That's what it came down to. That was his best friend and I can't even imagine the love that they had for each other. I just want that to be known more than anything."
Officers received a description of the suspect from the second victim and arrested 37-year-old Christopher Lawrence Cox, who was seen fleeing the location when they arrived. Cox is facing two charges and is currently in jail awaiting his first appearance. PCBP said Cox made "incriminating" statements to police about his involvement in the shooting.
According to an affidavit, Cox confessed to shooting the boys and said he believed they were going to steal his backpack. The document says Cox claimed one of the boys grabbed his bag. He said he pulled it away from the victim before taking his firearm out of the bag and firing at the teens.
PCBP said it is still investigating what happened between Cox and the teens leading up to the shooting and did not provide additional details to confirm the mom's description.
Police said Cox is "coincidentally" from the Louisville area. A Panama City spokesperson said Cox previously lived in Louisville.
"The boys, they didn't know him or who he was. He was just a strange man that came up to them on a beach. They didn't know who he was," the teen's mom said.
The case is open and under investigation as officers are still determining what happened before the shooting.
PCBP is also emphasizing that the shooting did happen during spring break, but is "in no way" related to spring break.