Putnam County

Man arrested for connection with 2020 shooting, charged with premeditated murder

(Putnam County Sheriff's Office)

PALATKA, Fla. — The Palatka Police Department and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of a suspect in the 2020 murder of Jontae Merritt.


Deputies arrested 28-year-old Sean Kemp on May 16. He is one of 2 suspects listed in this case.

According to the arrest report, Kemp and a man named William Bartley allegedly lured Merritt to Kemp’s home, where they shot him until their guns were out of bullets. Witnesses told police that the 2 men killed Merritt because they blamed him for the murder of their friend Shaquille Brown.

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Brown was killed on November 29, 2020, which was a day before Merritt’s murder. Both Kemp and Bartley visited the crime scene that night and were very upset about their friend’s death.

The next day, witnesses said Merritt showed up at Kemp’s house because he knew the 2 suspects blamed him for Brown’s murder and wanted to clear his name. The 2 suspects then said Merritt started “acting crazy” and charged at them with a knife.

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A crime scene reconstruction expert, however, said these statements didn’t match Kemp and Bartley’s stories, as the blood splattering and cartridge casing placement didn’t match Merritt’s charging at the suspects. In addition, the knife located next to Merritt’s body had no trace of blood on it, which it would have if it had been on him when he was shot.

Sean Kemp was arrested for one count of premeditated first-degree murder. Bartley has yet to be arrested and booked into Putnam County Jail.

Action News Jax will continue to follow the story and will update you as we learn more.

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