One solid step in Manatee County's fight against violence, crime

September 20, 2013 

Men came Sunday to the 13 AV Dream Center as part of the "Real Men Movement" against recent violence.JESSICE DeLEON/Bradenton Herald

In an extraordinary turn of events this week, victims and witnesses to a drive-by shooting provided information that led to the arrest of two suspects. We hope this is a sign of things to come -- that more residents who know about crime brave the misguided culture of silence and acquiescence and deny criminals free rein by talking to law enforcement.

The Palmetto Police Department applauded the various witnesses for standing up to yet another act of brutality in our community. "Give the credit where the credit is due," Deputy Chief Scott Tyler told the Herald. "We did our job, but we also had witnesses willing to testify."

The two suspects, a 16-year-old and a 22-year-old, both from Palmetto, have been charged with four counts or attempted murder in midday Sunday gunfire directed at five people standing outside a home in the city. Two women received minor injuries by shrapnel from the shooting.

Have residents finally come around to the idea that public safety is everyone's responsibility? That cooperation with the authorities is imperative to solving crime? That criminals are only emboldened to commit more acts of violence and other offenses with the confidence that nobody will dare talk?

This month marks the second anniversary of the Club Elite homicides in which at least two suspects sprayed several dozen bullets into the crowd outside the Palmetto nightclub, since shuttered and then converted into a restaurant. The case remains unsolved.

Somebody knows something about the deaths of Trayon Goff, 25, and Gwenette Matthews, 38, but the Palmetto Police Department cannot make arrests without solid evidence and witnesses. Although the agency has suspects in mind, more information is vital.

Rewards totaling $21,000 are available, too. Even anonymous tips would be helpful, by calling Crimestoppers at 866-634-TIPS. Or call PPD Detective Chad Oyler at 941-723-4587, ext. 306.

The Bradenton Police Department is also seeking the community's assistance in solving the shooting death of Brenton Coleman Sr. at the 13th Avenue Dream Center some seven weeks ago. The 40-year-old was holding his 5-year-old after a youth football practice when two people committed an "execution-style killing."

That brazen murder has sparked a community backlash that had led to the formation of neighborhood movement committed to combating violence and crime by creating a positive environment.

As we opined last week, that is a refreshing sign that residents are willing to take greater responsibility for the health and welfare of their neighborhoods.

But the best step is providing law enforcement with any information that could possibly solve a case, especially homicides.

The key witnesses in Sunday's Palmetto shooting gave sworn statements, and one of the victims knew one of the defendants by name. We highly commend their cooperation.

If only others would show the courage to put criminals behind bars, Manatee County would be in their debt and the community would be safer.

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