Gangs of Boynton: B-Town Boy Turned Preacher Man

At around 8:15 on a Saturday night late last month, Detective Alex Marino Moreno of the Boynton Beach Police Department responded to a call. Two men were lying dead on SW 2nd Ave., both of gunshot wounds. One of the victims was 23-year-old Stephen Ocean. The other, 25-year-old Tite Sufra. They'd been walking the neighborhood, preaching the word of God.

It was clear to Moreno that this was an execution-style shooting. The wounds showed a bullet entering both skulls at close range. And there was a witness. A friend walking with Sufra and Ocean had stood by for about 15 minutes as they paused under a large tree, evangelizing the Word to Jeriah "Plug" Woody, an 18-year-old dressed in a black wave hat and black gloves.

The witness told police that Woody had taken a call on his cel. As Ocean and Sufra started to walk away, Woody turned and ran after them. Sufra walked back to meet Woody. When he was in close range, Woody fired and killed him. In a panic, Ocean ran, and was gunned down by a bullet to the back. As he lay bleeding on the pavement, Woody walked up and put a bullet in his head.

The case was baffling. Who would shoot two preachers? But this wasn't a case of religious persecution. It turns out that Stephen Ocean was likely an ex-member of a Boynton Beach gang known as the B-Town Boys. And the B-Town Boys were engaged in long-running, all-out warfare with another Haitian gang called the San Castle Soldiers, both of them subsets of the larger Top 6 gang. The feud ran so deep, and its origins were so obscure, that Lt. Mike Wallace of the Violent Crimes Task Force once likened it to the war between the Hatfield and the McCoys. As with the Mafia, it seemed that once you were in with the B-Town Boys, you were in for life.

Woody turned himself in to Boynton Beach police on February 3rd. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

One of the victims, Stephen Ocean, may have found God recently, but he was no angel. He had been arrested in 2006 with his friend Berno Charlemond for carrying a loaded gun in his car at the Boynton Beach Mall. In a case that became notorious, Charlemond was gunned down in that same mall a month later on Christmas Eve, sending shoppers scattering. San Castle Soldier members Wilson Pierre and Jesse Cesar, 21, had gotten into a fight with Charlemond in front of a shoe store. Then things got uglier: Charlemond was shot dead. Cesar fled to the women's department of Dillard's, where it took a SWAT team to extricate him.

At first, police charged Cesar -- a college football player at FAU with a previous arrest for attempted murder in a driveby shooting -- for both the murder of Charlemond and the attempted murder of a police officer. But Cesar evidently turned evidence against Pierre; police records showed he had made repeated calls to police from jail. Just before Cesar was set to testify in Pierre's trial, he was murdered as he left a barbershop in Orlando. Police attributed the murder to retaliation. (Cesar's brother Junior was shot dead on a basketball court in Boynton Beach last October. Witnesses refused to talk, and no wonder).

Violent Crimes Task Force director Mike Wallace told the Juice last week that gang crime has dropped by 50 percent since law enforcement started using RICO against gang members. But it seems that the B-Town boys and the San Castle Soldiers have a memory at least as long as the long arm of the law.

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Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd