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Push for street lights where Ryan Rogers was killed in Palm Beach Gardens

Commissioner Maria Marino writes letter to Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency
Ryan Rogers picture at Palm Beach Gardens police news conference, Dec. 2, 2021
Posted at 3:27 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 12:15:16-05

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Following the recent death of a 14-year-old Palm Beach Gardens boy, there is a push to increase the lighting along a stretch of road where the child was killed.

Police said Ryan Rogers was stabbed to death Nov. 15 along a Central Boulevard sidewalk at the Interstate 95 overpass by a "homeless drifter" in what appeared to be "a completely random act."

Semmie Williams Jr., 39, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder earlier this month in connection with the deadly attack.

Following the incident, there has been an outpouring of support from the community for lights in the area where the child was killed.

Ryan Rogers and Semmie Williams Jr., photos divided by crime scene
Police say Semmie Williams Jr., 39, stabbed Ryan Rogers to death in Palm Beach Gardens.

At the Palm Beach County Transportation Planning Agency (TPA) meeting Thursday, Commissioner Maria Marino proposed a local initiative project to install street lights in this area.

Marino, who represents Palm Beach Gardens, said Central Boulevard is a county road, but the light installation and maintenance would be incumbent on the city.

The TPA said if the city submits an application, the board can consider accelerating it with new funding.

The executive director of the TPA released the following statement on the initiative:

The City of Palm Beach Gardens can apply to the TPA for construction funds but must pay for and conduct the design of the street lights themselves. Once the application is submitted, the TPA Board can consider accelerating it with new funding through the infrastructure act. The county will allow them to be installed but the City will have to pay for operations and maintenance once built.

Below is a statement from the city of Palm Beach Gardens regarding street lights along Central Boulevard:

The City of Palm Beach Gardens, along with our community, continues to mourn the death of Ryan Rogers. Out of this tragedy there have been a number of requests, one of which is to install streetlighting and pedestrian lighting along Central Boulevard, a County road. According to current policy, the County’s position on this issue is that the City would bear the total cost of this project should it be approved. Currently, Palm Beach Gardens is gathering data and evaluating the feasibility of this project.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced Thursday that a grand jury returned an indictment against Williams on a charge of first-degree murder with a weapon.

If convicted, the charge is punishable by life in prison or death.

"My office is committed to seeking justice for the family of Ryan Rogers in a case that has greatly disturbed and saddened our community and beyond," Aronberg said. "Because this is a pending criminal case, I cannot make any further extra-judicial statements as we move forward with the prosecution of this defendant."