MANATEE -- A man was shot to death during a home invasion robbery in Oakwood Estates near Palmetto early Sunday, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office reports.
The homicide is the 24th of the year in Manatee County, doubling the toll in 2011.
Three male victims were sitting outside their duplex, when three armed males approached them on foot about 1:28 a.m. in the 900 block of 21st Street East.
The victims had started to retreat inside the duplex, when two of them were struck by the intruders with their weapons, and robbed of their belongings, the sheriff's report said.
The third victim retreated towards another room in the duplex. Responding deputies found his body there. The victim's family is believed to be in Mexico, and investigators were still trying to confirm his identify.
"We think we have the identity of the victim, but we need to verify his identity," said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
The assailants, whose faces were covered according to witnesses, fled on foot in an unknown direction.
The name of the homicide victim is being withheld at this time pending notifications.
The investigation is ongoing at this time.
The home invasion robbery is not believed to be drug-related, Bristow said.
Oakwood Estates, a neighborhood with a tall chain-link fence at the entrance and no trespassing signs, is no stranger to violent crime.
On Oct. 27, at about 4:30 a.m., a victim was beaten by three suspects near the laundry room at Oakwood Estates. During the beating, one of the assailants took the victims cellphone, and a debit card from his pocket.
The victim suffered minor facial injuries, but declined treatment. The perpetrators fled in a gray Dodge four-door sedan Deputies were seeking a man about 6 feet tall, 190 pounds; and two others who stood about 5 feet 9 inches tall, and were between 25-30 years old, the report said.
In September of 2011, a man was pistol-whipped during a home invasion robbery in an apartment at Oakwood Estates. Three suspects armed with handguns burst in and demanded money. One of the suspects pistol-whipped one of the residents, who then surrendered his wallet.
When he was pistol-whipped a second time, the gun fired once. No one was hit by the bullet.
Anyone with information about a crime is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).