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Sunday, March 3, 2024

State seeking death penalty against suspected Paddock Mall shooter

The State Attorney’s Office announced on Friday that it will be seeking the death penalty as it prosecutes the 39-year-old man accused of killing another man and wounding two others in a shooting at Paddock Mall on December 23.

Last week, Albert James Shell, Jr. was indicted by a grand jury on multiple charges in connection with the fatal shooting, including premeditated first-degree murder with a firearm, two counts of attempted second-degree murder with a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Albert James Shell, Jr.
Albert James Shell, Jr.

At the time of the indictment, Shell was already in custody at Marion County Jail.

In a media release on Friday, February 2, State Attorney Bill Gladson stated that the decision to seek the death penalty “is reflective of the gravity of the alleged offenses and the impact it has on the community.”

Last month, in the early morning hours on January 8, OPD officers, in collaboration with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Marshals Service (Florida Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force), located and apprehended Shell.

Albert Shell, Jr. being arrested by OPD
OPD officers arresting Albert James Shell, Jr. on January 8, 2024. (Photo: Ocala Police Department)

Shell was arrested in connection with the fatal Paddock Mall shooting that claimed the life of 40-year-old David Nathaniel Barron.

Victim identified person of interest sought in fatal Paddock Mall shooting
David Nathaniel Barron, 40, was fatally shot inside Paddock Mall on December 23, 2023.

Shell allegedly targeted Barron just before 4 p.m. on December 23. OPD states that it received the first call about an active shooter at around 3:40 p.m.

Multiple law enforcement units were dispatched to the mall and found that the shooting had already taken place. Barron was found in a common area, deceased from gunshot wounds.

Ocala police initially reported that one bystander at the mall, an unidentified woman, had sustained a gunshot wound during the shooting incident and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Her injuries were described as non-life-threatening by police.

In an update on January 26, OPD stated that an investigation into the shooting revealed that a second bystander, an unidentified man, was also grazed by a stray bullet. According to police, his injury was minor and he did not go to the hospital.

Within 24 hours of the shooting at Paddock Mall, OPD released surveillance photos that showed a suspect that fled the scene immediately after shots were fired. He was later identified as Shell.

OPD person of interest in fatal Paddock Mall shooting on December 23, 2023
Surveillance photos of the shooting suspect who was later identified as Shell.

Over the two weeks following the fatal shooting, a cash reward was offered by Ocala police for information leading to Shell’s arrest. The reward was increased to $20,000 several days before Shell was apprehended by law enforcement.

On the morning of Shell’s arrest, Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken hosted a news conference to discuss the case. According to Balken, law enforcement received over 100 tips from the public that ultimately helped lead to an arrest, and the $20,000 reward will be paid out as soon as the police department finishes sorting through those tips.

Balken stated that Shell was located in a house around 20 miles southwest of Ocala in an area called the Florida Highlands. OPD became aware of Shell’s location early on the morning of his arrest, and law enforcement quickly surrounded the home.

After a several-hour standoff, Balken stated that Shell was taken into custody without incident.

“We know that the victim had a prior relationship with Mr. Shell,” stated Balken. “And I don’t want to really go into details about the motives behind this case, but [there’s] no reason to believe that this was anything other than a beef between two individuals that was resolved in a mall with a gun.”

Balken stated that the female victim who sustained a gunshot wound was a “completely innocent bystander that got caught up in this mess.” She is expected to make a full recovery.

At the time of the press conference, the police department was unaware that a second bystander had been grazed by a bullet during the shooting.

Shell is currently being held at Marion County Jail without bond. He has entered a plea of “not guilty,” and his arraignment is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, February 13, according to court records.

“As legal proceedings unfold, our office asks for respect for the legal process and the privacy of those involved,” stated Attorney Gladson. “We will continue to work diligently to bring this case to a just resolution.”