Manatee detectives arrest Ellenton coin shop attempted burglary suspect

jdeleon@bradenton.comMay 10, 2013 

Authorities arrested a suspect Thursday in an attempted burglary and attempted murder at an Ellenton coin shop, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Just hours after releasing photos taken by security cameras at Cortez Coins, 3812 U.S. 301, detectives learned the suspect, La'Jay McKelly, had been shot Wednesday evening, allegedly while trying to rob the owner, said sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow. Detectives caught up Thursday with McKelly as he was being treated at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

"It is not a serious or life-threatening wound so he will be transported to the jail as soon as he is treated," Bristow said.

McKelly, 21, Bradenton, will be charged with attempted armed burglary and attempted murder, Bristow said.

The attempted armed burglary occurred about 5 p.m. Wednesday. McKelly is accused of feigning an attempt to pawn jewelry as a pretext to a robbery. As the shop owner tried to assist McKelly, the suspect whacked him over the head with a

pistol and allegedly made at least three attempts to shoot him -- but his weapon failed.

The victim was able to reach under the counter, retrieve his own gun and shoot McKelly once as he fled.

"I'm very thankful to my Lord and Savior that I am here today," the victim said.

Earlier Thursday morning the coin shop was closed although the victim said he was at the shop.

"I'm letting some people in and turning away others," the coin store operator said. "I have regulars."

The video surveillance system captured the photos released by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. The shop owner is increasing security measures, he said.

"We are making some changes on the inside, too," the victim said.

Bristow said McKelly apparently had no prior arrests.

"There is a case in Sarasota that may be related that we are looking at," Bristow said.

Until leads prompted by the security video photos starting coming in, it had been unclear if the suspect had even been hit by the victim's gunshot.

"There is no evidence other than he shot at him," Bristow said shortly before the arrest. "There was no trail of blood."

Nothing was stolen during the incident and the victim's cut on his head from the blow did not require hospitalization.

"He is obviously a very lucky person," Bristow said.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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