Palmetto police seek solid tips about Club Elite shooting

lwilliams@bradenton.comSeptember 15, 2011 

PALMETTO -- Detectives investigating Saturday’s mass shooting that killed two people and injured 22 more want to hear “concrete” information from those who witnessed the tragedy or heard the shooters talk about their attack.

People are talking, but investigators are inundated with rumors and third- and fourth-hand accounts of the shooting, which occurred outside of the now-defunct Club Elite, 704 10th St. W.

Police are hoping the reward, which has grown to more than $20,000, will spur the right person to come forward with the kind of information that will lead to an arrest.

Palmetto Police spokesman Lt. Scott Tyler said detectives are “vigorously investigating” every tip and lead that comes in, even the anonymous rumors percolating through the community, most of which he said share a common theme.

“Many of the rumors, they’re not substantive. A lot of them say this is retaliation for a previous violent act,” Tyler said. “This was on our radar, but we need people to come forward and say this is what I saw, or this is what so-and-so said.”

The Gold Star Club of Manatee County is offering a reward of $10,000. This will be added to the $1,000 or more from CrimeStoppers and $10,000 from the Palmetto Community Redevelopment Authority, Tyler said Wednesday.

“That money is part of our community policing plan,” Tyler said.

Gold Star President Ron Getman, a retired Florida Highway Patrol major and former commander of Troop F, said his group hopes the reward will be a powerful motivator.

Earlier this year his club offered $10,000 for information about a sexual predator who raped a 15-year-old girl in Bradenton and tried to rape a 12-year-old girl.

The suspect was caught, Getman said, and several people who provided tips shared the reward.

“There’s a culture in part of our society that frowns, that looks down upon others that ‘snitch,’” he said. “It’s something completely different for to provide information to help law enforcement to solve a serious crime.

“For years and years, since the time of Christ, rewards have been offered to create incentives for those who might want to provide this information. We put the money out there,” Getman said. “People can cooperate with us or with Crime Stoppers. They can do it anonymously.”

Anyone with information about the crime can call the Palmetto Police Department at (941) 723-4587 or Manatee County Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-8477.

Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

Lee Williams, Herald investigative reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7041.

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