MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 15-year-old is now charged with the murder of a watermelon vendor in the Nutbush neighborhood, and the community is expressing their disappointment with the crime.

Meanwhile, John Materna’s family members are also expressing their appreciation from the support received from the community.

Close friends say Materna died Monday night, just two weeks after being shot during a robbery at Homer Street and Wayne Avenue. Witnesses say the victim was selling watermelons on the corner when he was killed.

“Why is he on the streets at 9 a.m.? Fifteen years old, on a school day, with a gun,” said Meme, a neighbor.

She is among the many people in this Nutbush community who stopped at the memorial set up for 76-year-old John Materna, also known as “Red” or the “Watermelon Man.”

“If the child would’ve asked him for the money, he would’ve probably given it to him,” Meme added.

Memphis Police say 15-year-old Demarion Tackett faces First Degree Murder, Aggravated Robbery and other charges in connection to the shooting. 

A spokeswoman for MPD says the department is publicly identifying the suspect, despite being a juvenile, because of the murder charge. 

“I knew he was young, but I didn’t know how old,” said a witness. He said he was standing next to Materna when the fatal shots were fired. “One had come to me, and the other went over to Red. Both had guns. Why he didn’t shoot me, I don’t know.”

Police say there is a second suspect who has not been identified. 

“Get your lives straight. Put them guns down,” the witness said. “I miss my buddy.”

An MPD spokeswoman confirms the teen has been involved in previous crimes but would not release any other details. 

“I think he should be charged as an adult,” the witness said. “Even though he’s 15, he knew better than that.”

WREG reached out to the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office to see if they would push for the teen to be tried as an adult. A spokesperson for the DA says the case remains in juvenile court, and their office is still receiving information on the investigation. 

“Nobody wins in this situation,” said Meme. “Nobody. His parents, his family, people who love this child that took this man’s life are hurting just as much as we are.”

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A candlelight vigil is set for this Sunday at 7 p.m. on the corner of Homer Street and Wayne Avenue.

Tackett is due back in court on June 13.

Wednesday, the Materna family released a statement on their loved one:

“The tragic loss of this incredible husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend is massive. He is loved by so many people, so much that I don’t think he himself knew the amount of love and admiration that was felt for him. We love you, we miss you and will always miss you. We will cherish every memory we have of you. We want to thank the community for they love and support they have shown. Here’s a big wave from the Watermelon Man.”