Three victims — none of them FAU students. Three arrests — two of them FAU students.
The two students, 18-year-olds Jared Tuck and Anthony Proios, weren’t arrested until they walked into the police station to explain their side of the story about what happened. It’s a story about their alleged involvement in a drug deal that left one of its victims with minor injuries and two in critical condition.
It was the night before Halloween. Jared Tuck was hanging out at his 19-year-old friend Thomas Fenech’s apartment a quarter-mile east of campus, near N.W. Fourth Avenue and N.W. 19th Street.
That evening, Tuck was in the living room playing video games and doing homework. A few people he knew were in the apartment, selling pot to a student from West Palm Beach-based Northwood University, but Tuck said he wasn’t paying much attention.
The deal was done. The buyer left.
That’s when Tuck heard someone shout “Oh fuck, it’s fake!” Everyone in the apartment ran outside. He saw Fenech carrying an AK-47.
Then he heard the shots.
As Tuck later told police, he took the gun from Fenech and stashed it in the trunk of Anthony Proios’ Honda (the same car they later took to the police station), but not before 21 bullet casings had fallen to the ground. Tuck, Fenech and Proios left Fenech’s apartment.
They went to FAU and spent the night at Tuck’s Indian River Towers dorm room on the Boca campus.
On Halloween, Tuck and Proios met with Alexander Moreno, a FAU freshman who knew the buyers and the dealers. He later told police he was the middleman in the deal.
Moreno told Tuck and Proios he had read online that two people were shot the day before.
It was then, Tuck told police, that he and Proios decided to get rid of the AK-47. They left campus and headed north to Beeline Highway, the gun still in the trunk. They turned onto a side road where they took apart the gun and tossed it into a marsh by the woods.
Fenech was arrested by Boca police for attempted second-degree murder on Nov. 1. Police arrested Tuck and Proios for being accessories to the crime that is, for assisting Fenech after the shooting. The UP attempted to contact Tuck and Proios, but they had not responded as of press time.
But things weren’t always this way for the three young men, who police say had been friends since they were five years old.
Just last year, Jared Tuck was Homecoming King at his high school. He played defensive end on his school’s football team.
Anthony Proios dated a cheerleader in high school.
Thomas Fenech, known as “Tommy” to those close to him, would hang out with his friends at the beach.
So when the three were arrested for their involvement in the Oct. 30 Oakwood Apartments shooting, it came as a shock to those who knew them.
“They didn’t seem like gun-toting fiends,” said Alex Brickhouse, a freshman multimedia studies major who lives on the same floor as Proios. “Just like average guys.”
Tuck, Fenech and Proios grew up together in Seminole, Fla, a small suburban town of about 20,000 people, 40 minutes west of Tampa in Pinellas County. Tuck would often take Beeline Highway, where he and Proios tossed the gun, to visit his parents.
They lived in neighborhoods where most of the houses had pools.
Their parents weren’t hurting for money — Fenech’s dad closed million-dollar mortgage deals each month for Seminole-based Sunbelt Lending Services over the past eight years, according to the company’s website. Pinellas County assesses his house at $303,297.
Their parents are close friends with each other, according to former Seminole High School classmate Alyssa Smith. Seminole High has 2,500 students and was a “A” high school in 2009-2010, according to the Florida Department of Education.
“They were popular,” said Smith, now a freshman psychology major at FAU. “Everyone in high school liked them. I don’t think that there was anyone that had a problem with them.”
Smith has known Fenech and Proios since eighth grade, when they met through a mutual friend. She met Tuck about two years ago at Seminole High.
“We [all] went to homecoming and prom together,” she said . “We’d chill at friends’ houses, and go to parties together.”
According to Smith, the three were above-average students at Seminole High School. They got good grades and, for the most part, stayed out of trouble.
“They were really laid-back people, minding their own business, really,” she said.
The turning point may have been during their sophomore year, when four of the boys’ friends died in an accident. Their friends’ car hit a tree and burst into flames, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
“They were loyal [friends],” said Smith. “I think [the accident] opened up their eyes, so that they had each other’s backs 100 percent. If somebody talked shit to them, they’d stand up for them.”
Smith told the UP that when Fenech was a junior, he was caught smoking pot, but she offered no further details. Afterward, he was transferred to St. Petersburg Catholic High School, a private school with a $9,000/year tuition ($12,000 if you’re not Catholic). NBC Miami reported that Fenech had been arrested twice on drug-related charges in Pinellas County, but had no other details about his arrests.
As far as Smith knew, though, none of them dealt pot in high school. The UP was unable to confirm if the teens had a juvenile record due to privacy laws.
Smith said even after high school the boys remained close. Tuck and Proios headed off to FAU this past summer. Smith said Proios came to the university for his high school girlfriend, a cheerleader at Seminole and at FAU. Fenech would visit them frequently on weekends before moving to Boca Raton this past fall to attend PBSC.
To neighbors, friends and suite-mates, nothing seemed strange about the three freshmen.
One of Proios’ suite-mates, freshman multimedia studies major Necho Carroll, didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about Proios, besides the fact that he mostly kept to himself and his close group of friends.
“The few times I talked to him, he seemed like a regular guy,” said Carroll. “But I knew he smoked weed. The very first time he moved in, I noticed the smell of pot.” Other people who lived on the floor noticed the same smell while walking by Proios’ room.
“You could smell pot from the hallways right by their room,” said Alex Brickhouse, freshman multimedia studies major. Brickhouse lives on the same floor of IRT as Proios.
But like Carroll, not many of Proios’ neighbors in IRT knew him personally. Some said Proios was a quiet guy who didn’t really associate with anyone on their floor; others barely talked to him aside from the contact they had in passing.
“We’d say ‘hi’ to each other, but I didn’t really know him,” said freshman architecture major James Wallack, who lives on the same floor as Proios.
A UP search of FAU police records showed that Tuck and Proios had no run-ins with campus cops during their time as students.
Fenech’s neighbors remember him as a friendly teenager.
Yvonne Cadello, who lived on the floor below Fenech at Oakwood Apartments, recalled a time when Fenech let her baby pet his puppy. Another neighbor, dual-enrolled PBSC student Wyatt Hyames, said, “He seemed just like a fine person. Just, like, really friendly.”
Most couldn’t believe it when they heard the news.
“I didn’t even put it together,” said Smith. “I never even thought to put it together. I can’t picture Tommy pointing a gun at somebody. I just can’t see it.”
Baffled neighbors and friends are still searching for explanations, because nothing much about the three seemed to give real insight to them into how and why the teens became involved in the shooting over $1,200 worth of pot.
Hyames believed that Fenech was caught in a bad situation. “The way I saw it was, it was one decision this guy had,” he said. “Just one bad decision. And now he’s probably going to pay for it for the rest of his life.”
Proios posted bail on Nov. 1, the same day of his arrest. Tuck was released from jail after posting bail on Nov. 2. Fenech is still in jail.
A trial date has not been set.
One of the victims of the shooting, Tyler Doyle, was released from Delray Medical Center on Oct. 31 with minor injuries to his hands from shattered glass. Victims Andrew Hernandez and John Addison were in the Intensive Care Unit at Delray Medical Center as of Nov. 2, according to NBC Miami.
[Ryan Cortes, Michelle Ferrand, Chris Persaud, and Monica Ruiz contributed to the reporting of this story.]
Update (11/8/11 12:40 p.m.) In an earlier version of this story, the infographic Deal Done Wrong incorrectly said that PBSC student Thomas Fenech accompanied FAU students Anthony Proios and Jared Tuck to get rid of an AK-47 rifke. Fenech did not actually accompany them. The UP apologizes for this error.