BRADENTON -- A ski mask found on the ground may hold the key to solving the Sunday morning slaying of Juan Enrique Medina.
A resident at the end of the street containing duplexes near the 2200 block of 15th Street East found a ski mask possibly worn by the man believed to have shot Medina, Medina's eldest son, Ivan Medina, 22, said Tuesday afternoon.
"We got a call from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and they said they are working a good lead," Ivan Medina said. "Based on the ski mask, they may even have a good lead on who it is. Someone down the street saw the ski mask on the ground."
Bradenton Police Department Capt. William Fowler would not say much more.
"At this time, because this is an active investigation, I can't comment," Fowler said. "I will say detectives are pursuing some active leads at this point."
Friends of Medina expressed deep sadness Tuesday over the death of the man everyone knew as "Neighbor" because of his habit of inviting strangers to the patio of his duplex in the 2200 block of 15th Avenue East.
"He was a good and kind person and he will definitely be missed," said Mark Officer, owner of the duplex where Medina, his wife, Emma Es
trada, and four children have lived 14 years.
Officer said the Medinas have been great tenants.
"They have been with me a long time and I watched the kids grow up," Officer said. "Juan was one of those guys who would offer passing people a cold soda. He was a nice individual. It's a shame."
According to police reports and the family's account, Medina was shot about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when a friend he was with was pistol-whipped by a man believed to have just committed a pair of home invasion robberies a few duplexes over from Medina's.
"I think the man who did this saw two guys chilling on the patio and came over to rob someone again," said Ivan Medina.
The shooter was described as standing about 6-foot-2, weighing 170 pounds and may have been wearing a mask, according to police.
Ivan Medina said Tuesday the family is holding up strong.
"It's been very hard," Medina said. "But many friends are coming to our house to give support. By hurting my dad, this man hurt a lot of people."
Juan Medina was a devoted Catholic. The family is working to arrange a burial, Ivan Medina said.
"I would ask everyone to pray for my dad," Ivan Medina said.
Anyone with any information about the slaying can call Manatee County homicide task force Detective Jim Curulla at 941-747-3011, ext. 2224, or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 745-7045 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.