Home invasion beatings stir neighborhood

rnapper@bradenton.comApril 21, 2009 

MANATEE — Jason Brown rushed to his mother’s home Monday after she told him her badly beaten neighbor had hopped onto her front stoop bound, gagged and screaming for help.

Bradenton police say around 12:30 p.m., the man and his wife, believed to be in their 60s, were severely beaten in an attack in their home in the 200 block of 32nd Street Northwest, off Riverview Boulevard, during what appears to be a burglary attempt.

“I was on the phone with my mom when our neighbor came to the door,” said Brown. “My mother said his hands were tied and his mouth gagged. He said something like he didn’t know how the man got in or left.”

Brown’s mother called 911 and police arrived, setting off a manhunt through one of Bradenton’s most affluent neighborhoods. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with a helicopter, K-9 dogs and deputies, but the burglar escaped.

The victims were both taken to Blake Medical Center with significant but non-life-threatening injuries, according to Manatee County Public Safety Capt. Larry Leinhauser.

Bradenton police declined to comment on Monday’s attack, but urged residents to lock doors and windows of their homes. Police also said the man was described as a male wearing dark clothing and a black mask.

Two hours after the initial attack, another resident reported a scare at her house on 43rd Street Northwest, just off Riverview Boulevard, several blocks from the initial attack.

Tara Reed, 23, said she was changing her 8-month-old baby’s diaper when she heard her back doors open with a slam. She found several drawers in her home ransacked. She never saw anyone in her house, but investigators looked into whether the same burglar had entered her home.

“We don’t think they’re related,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow. “But we aren’t ruling anything out.”

Reed said her fear intensified when she learned of the earlier attack near her home.

“I am really freaked out. I cannot imagine if it came down to me tied up with my children on their own,” said Reed.

Brown said his mother is also in shock from the sight of her neighbor bleeding on her front porch asking for help.

“She really can’t talk about it right,” said Brown. “She is really shaken up. Whoever did this needs to be brought to justice.”

Word spread fast of the attack as residents up and down Riverview Boulevard asked if the burglar had been caught.

“This is just scary,” said Christina German, who lives around the corner from the victims. “To think this could happen here is just unbelievable. I don’t think any of us feel safe.”

Bradenton police detectives believe Monday’s attack may be related to ongoing investigations by sheriff’s offices in Sarasota and Manatee in which residents were beaten during burglaries, according to a prepared statement released by the department.

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