Investigation continues in Bradenton police shooting

June 10, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Just a fragment of yellow crime scene tape remained tied Sunday night to the chain-link fence surrounding the back yard of a home where an alleged kidnapping took place Saturday followed by the shooting death of the suspect.

The curtains and blinds of the house were closed and no one appeared at home early Sunday evening.

This quiet neighborhood of neatly kept single-family homes and duplex apartments had returned to normalcy following the chaotic events that led to Saturday's shooting fatality.

"If I didn't see the police cars, I wouldn't have known anything was going on," said neighbor Gerry Lopez, whose home is next door. "Today is a regular quiet Sunday."

Lopez said he had never talked to his neighbors even before the mid-afternoon shooting fatality Saturday involving a Bradenton police officer and a kidnapping suspect.

The case remained shrouded in mystery Sunday as authorities were withholding the identities of the officer, the deceased and a young woman reportedly being restrained against her will by the dead man just before the shooting.

Lt. James Rackey of the Bradenton Police Department said it's standard procedure to let lead investigators release information in a case where a BPD officer's use of deadly force is being investigated by a third party. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is now leading the investigation.

"We're not giving the name of our officer involved out yet," Rackey said. "We're not handling the investigation so we are respecting the procedure of the lead investigators."

FDLE spokesman Steve Arthur said it's possible all involved parties will be identified Monday.

"The officer investigating this doesn't release any information until they are pretty far along," Arthur said. "They don't like to discuss an ongoing case and won't discuss it until after they've made their determinations. Sometimes it's a matter of a few days, sometimes it takes longer. It's very difficult to say at this point."

FDLE Special Agent Mark Willis was on scene Saturday but did not answer calls Sunday afternoon.

Bradenton Police Department Deputy Chief Warren Merriman said officers answered a call about a possible kidnapping at 2:14 p.m. Saturday at a home in the 300 block of 20th Street East.

Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski characterized the incident as a "domestic kidnapping" and said the dead man allegedly had been beating his girlfriend, who was from North Carolina.

Radzilowski said the woman managed to text a family member in North Carolina, who then alerted police. As police arrived, the boyfriend fled on foot but was cornered in a back yard three blocks away at Manatee Avenue and 19th Street East.

"He confronted a detective in a back yard with some type of long metal item," Radzilowski said. "The officer fired one shot in the chest, killing him."

The detective was not injured and has been placed on administrative leave, which is routine following use of deadly force.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Unit was later seen removing what appeared to be the suspect's weapon.

Merriman said FDLE was called to investigate to avoid any conflict of interest.

-- Herald staff report

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