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Friends mourn teen slain in Wesley Chapel

A 16-year-old Zephyrhills teen, stabbed to death during an argument Friday afternoon, was remembered by his friends as a compassionate person who was always there for others.

Tuvarrion “Jay” Sirmons, a sophomore at Zephyrhills High School, was kind-hearted, honest and rarely met anyone he didn't like, said longtime friend Amoni Pease, who had known the teen since they were in sixth grade together.

Elijah Jamison, who had known Sirmons even longer, remembers him as cool, smart and caring.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrested 18-year-old Cleave Gittens and charged him with second degree murder in the stabbing death. Pasco Circuit Court Judge W. Lowell Bray set his bail at $100,000 during a first appearance in court Saturday morning.

Gittens lives in Wesley Chapel in the area of the Meadow Pointe II residential subdivision, said Doug Tobin, a sheriff's spokesman.

Gittens and Sirmons, who lived at 38532 Naomi Ave., Zephyrhills, got into an argument Friday afternoon near Sirmons' home, Tobin said. The argument broke up. But shortly after the initial argument they confronted each other at the Meadow Pointe II Clubhouse, 30051 County Line Road in Wesley Chapel.

Pease said friends she has spoken to told her that Gittens was throwing rocks at Sirmons and Sirmons confronted him. The arrest report also states that Gittens had thrown rocks at the teen. Pease said she does not know what the two were arguing about.

It was after the rocks were thrown and Sirmons came toward Gittens and grabbed his arms that Gittens pulled the knife and stabbed the unarmed youth, according to the arrest report.

Sirmons was transported to a Tampa hospital where he died, the sheriff's office said. The sheriff's office was contacted about the stabbing about 3:30 p.m. Friday. Authorities confirmed that Sirmons did not have a weapon.

Gittens moved to the area of the Meadow Pointe II subdivision two years ago. He has a juvenile record that includes weapons charges, possession of a firearm, disorderly conduct and drug charges, Tobin said.

The sheriff's office is working with the Pasco County School District, and a crisis team will be at Zephyrhills High School on Monday.

Late Friday, Jamison said he was devastated to hear that his childhood friend had died. Jamison had known Sirmons since fifth grade.

They last saw each other three weeks ago at a Wiregrass High and Wesley Chapel High football game, he said. Although Sirmons went to Zephyrhills High, he knew many students at both Wiregrass and Wesley Chapel high schools, Jamison said.

“He had friends everywhere, all over Zephyrhills, Wesley Chapel and Dade City,” said Pease, who attended Weightman Middle School with Sirmons. “He was a funny person, always smiling. Everybody has good stories about Jay and good moments they remember with him.”

“That's my friend,” said Jamison, 16, a Wesley Chapel High sophomore. “He's gone. I wasn't there to say goodbye or 'I love you.' I never thought about Jay dying,” he said. “His mom don't know me, but I'm praying for her.”

Sirmons was kind, caring, cool and intelligent, Jamison said, and he would never start a fight, but he wouldn't ignore someone who was threatening him.

“He ain't going to back down,” he said.

Sirmons never talked about having a problem with Gittens or anyone else, Jamison said, and if Sirmons did have a problem, his friends would know,.

“If Jay had a problem, everybody would have had Jay's back,” he said.

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