"My son is an innocent child," Tasha Hagins says of her son, Sauvallie. "He came outside and got shot for no reason. Now he has to deal with this for the rest of his life." She is seen with Sauvallie's father, Sauvallie Hagins Sr.
When Tasha Hagins heard the gunshots Monday night, her maternal instincts kicked into overdrive.
"My son!" she screamed and sprinted out of her Seffner apartment where, a few minutes before, 14-year-old Sauvallie Hagins Jr. told his mother he was taking out the trash.
Hagins saw her son bent over and leaning on a car.
"Baby, you got shot?" she shouted as she gathered Sauvallie's crumpled body in her arms and laid him on the ground.
She grabbed his hand. She told him to be strong, to keep calm.
Keep talking, she said.
As Sauvallie was comforted by his mother, neighbors at the Claymore Estates apartment complex gathered around and gave Hagins towels.
Sauvallie was shot three times at about 8:30 p.m. Monday. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital where he underwent four hours of surgery. At a news conference this afternoon outside the hospital, Hagins said her son was shot in the stomach, leg and groin area.
Sauvallie remains in serious condition today. Deputies have yet to find the shooter.
"My son is an innocent child," Hagins said. "He came outside and got shot for no reason. Now he has to deal with this for the rest of his life."
The bullets probably were not meant for him.
Davontae Davis, a teenager who also lives in the apartments at 5005 Claymore Drive, said he thinks he was the shooter's intended target. About three weeks ago, Davis said, a person claimed Davis stole something from him.
Davis said the person must have followed him home.
"I told my neighbor, 'Man, you better run, I think they're gonna shoot,' " Davis said outside his apartment today. "But he just laughed at me, thinking that it wasn't that serious. By the time I looked out my window, I seen him falling."
Davis' mother, Latasha Mitchell, said she feels terrible about what happened to Hagins.
"I tossed and turned all night," she said.
Hagins said she spoke to Mitchell today and heard about Davis' account. Hagins said she hopes authorities find the shooter soon.
"I hope they catch whoever did this to my son," she said. "We need these types of people off the streets."
Deputies are continuing their search for the shooter in the area of the apartments, east of Interstate 75 and south of Hillsborough Avenue.
Investigators are looking for the suspect's car, possibly a red or maroon Chevrolet Caprice Classic or a Ford Crown Victoria with large rims.
"Right now, all we know is that according to some interviews, they said that there had been an ongoing dispute among some kids in the neighborhood, in the apartment complex, not gang-related," sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. "But an ongoing dispute and it's possibly related to the shooting."
Sauvallie doesn't appear to have been involved in the dispute, Carter said.
Hagins, 33, said she moved to the Seffner apartment complex in November with Sauvallie and his sisters, Taqueisha Gilchrist, 16, Alexus Hagins, 13, and Sandy Hagins, 8, because it was far from the bustle and congestion of Tampa.
"I thought it was a better community," she said.
Tasha Hagins said she had just completed cosmetology school and wanted a better life for her children.
Sauvallie, a student at Jennings Middle School, loves football and is an outgoing teen, she said.
"We're very thankful for the hospital, the doctors, the nurses, the goodness of God," Hagins said. "My son is recovering. I'm just thankful."
Anyone with information is asked to call Hillsborough County deputies at (813) 2... or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.
Tribune reporter Josh Poltilove and researcher Michael Messano contributed to this report. Reporter Ray Reyes can be reached at (813) 259-7920.