BPD awaits autopsy results on Bradenton homicide

Herald Staff ReportersJuly 19, 2013 

George Bell Sr. lives in fear in the Seventh Avenue East neighborhood where a murder occurred recently.RICHARD DYMOND/Bradenton Herald

BRADENTON -- Police are continuing to investigate the homicide of a 23-year-old man as they await autopsy results to determine what caused the trauma to his head, according to Bradenton Police Capt. William Fowler.

Michael Wesley was pronounced dead by emergency medical service personnel shortly after arriving to a residence on the 1900 block of Seventh Avenue E. in Bradenton Wednesday morning.

Fowler said police still do not know the identity of the 911 caller.

"I just came out to my friend's house this morning and I don't know what happen to my homeboy in the room but he's just laying in the bed," the 911 caller told the operator in a recording released to the Herald. "He got a blood puddle around his head. I didn't want to touch him or move him."

The Emergency Control Center operator stayed on the phone with the caller for about eight minutes until paramedics arrived.

Wesley was laying flat on his stomach and unresponsive, according to the caller.

In the recording, the operator instructs the caller to move Wesley's body onto the floor on his back. The caller calls another friend over to assist him.

"I'm going to grab him now, but I don't want to hurt him, I don't want to drop him on the floor or anything," the caller said. "I don't even know how to grab him."

In the recording, the two men seem to struggle as they mumble to one another, but finally are able to lay Wesley's

body on the floor.

"Ma'am, he's dead," the caller said.

The operator began to instruct the caller on how to perform chest compressions just as paramedics arrived on the scene.

Police arrived at the scene at 9:15 a.m. and Detective James Curulla and the Manatee Homicide Investigative Unit were assigned to investigate the death as a homicide.

Neighbor 'very scared'

George Bell Sr. lives a short distance from the house where Wesley's body was found.

"Very scared. That's how I feel living here," Bell said Thursday.

Bell's son, George Hill Jr., daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, all live in a rented house in the 700 block of 19th Street E.

It was the only house they could find at the time for his large family and he did not know the area would be so crime-ridden, he said.

"It seemed like the ideal place for us," Bell said.

This latest apparent homicide is one of a series of shootings and arrests Bell said he has seen or heard in the neighborhood.

"I have seen the SWAT team out here," he said. "There was a shooting last week."

He is hopeful his landlord will let him out of his lease due to the shootings and this murder.

"I fear for my grandsons," Bell said.

Firearm on the table

When Bell's son, George Bell Jr., comes home from work, he always smokes a cigar and sits in the yard with two dogs nearby and a firearm on the garden table.

"We are armed," Bell said. "It's sickening to live this way. I would say the root of all the problems in this neighborhood are drugs. There was a man who pedaled around here on a three-wheel bike with speakers on it, He was busted for being a drug dealer."

Other people on the street asked for comment on the murder all said they did not live there and did not know Wesley.

The home where Wesley's body was found is familiar to police, Fowler said Wednesday. Police have been called out to the residence many times, including just last month.

According to Manatee County property appraisal records, Paralee Carter owns the home.

Wesley is said to have lived in the area and court records show his last known residence just a block away in the 1800 block of Seventh Avenue E.

Wesley's only prior arrest in Manatee County, according to court records, is a 2012 charge for possession of a controlled substance, alprazolam.

This is the fifth homicide in Bradenton this year, and the sixth overall in Manatee County.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Curulla at 941-747-3011, ext. 2224, or remain anonymous for a reward up to $1,000 by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477. An anonymous e-tip can also be sent to manateecrimestoppers.com.

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

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