15-year-old identified in killing of beloved vendor ‘Watermelon Man’, police say

Community grieves loss of beloved ‘Watermelon Man,’ shot, killed in attempted robbery
Community grieves loss of beloved ‘Watermelon Man,’ shot, killed in attempted robbery(Action News 5)
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 8:21 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2023 at 9:50 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Police Department identified the 15-year-old who allegedly killed the beloved street vendor known as ‘Red the Watermelon Man’.

Demarion Tackett, 15, is charged with first-degree murder, robbery, aggravated robbery, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

Family and friends are grieving the loss of 76-year-old John Materna, the man many knew as the Watermelon Man.

Those who knew him say his death is a tremendous loss for the community.

For decades, Materna sold fruit from his truck on the corner of Homer Street and Wayne Avenue.

He used the extra cash for vacations for himself and his wife, of 43 years.

On May 15th, police found him lying on the ground next to his truck after being shot in the stomach.

Police say Materna did fire back but was rushed to Regional One Hospital in critical condition.

Yesterday, community members stopped by to leave flowers, and teddy bears, and take photos to remember Materna, a man they say always spoke to everybody.

Police say there were two suspects involved.

Many of the people who stopped by the memorial on Tuesday say they’re praying for Materna’s family.

Meanwhile, as Memphis Police continue their investigation, they’re still searching for one more suspect.

Anyone with information should call crime stoppers at 901-528-CASH.

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