East Manatee neighborhood jolted by fatal shooting

rdymond@bradenton.comFebruary 24, 2014 

MANATEE -- Sugar Ridge is a neighborhood of large, nicely kept homes just off U.S. 301 in Manatee County.

But the quiet neighborhood was jolted by a fatal shooting at 2 a.m. Sunday authorities say possibly may be ruled self-defense.

"Nothing like that happens in this neighborhood," homeowner Ben Vanderneck said Sunday afternoon after 20-year-old Kerson Edmond f Manatee County was shot and killed at a home in the 3500 block of 30th Lane East.

The motive for the shooting appears to be an argument over a small amount of money and drugs, said Dave Bristow, a Manatee County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

The 35-year-old Manatee County man who shot Edmond has not been charged and is not in custody, Bristow said.

"We are trying to make sure all the stories from the witnesses are consistent and right now they seem to be," Bristow said.

When told the motive might be drugs, Vanderneck said he was surprised.

"I don't see any signs of that going on here," Vanderneck said.

Edmond's death is the area's second in the last 24 hours and third since Thursday.

An unidentified man was killed less than two hours before Edmond at about 12:17 a.m. Sunday, in a fight at the Cheetah Lounge, 3939 N. Washington Blvd., Sarasota. A Bradenton man has been charged with manslaughter.

The spate of killings began when Bradenton's Dakota Smith, 15, was shot to death at 8:44 p.m. Thursday in the 2500 block of 13th Avenue East in Bradenton. No one has been arrested in this case.

Bristow said Edmond and another man came to the house in Sugar Ridge and got in an argument with one of the residents, a 35-year-old woman.

"The argument turned physical and, according to witnesses, Edmond used the gun in the attack," Bristow said. "The man who shot Edmond saw this happening, pulls out a gun and shoots the person attacking the female."

The sheriff's office has four witnesses to the shooting, including homeowner Natalie Politis, the shooter and the female who was attacked.

The fourth witness is a man who came to the house with Edmonds.

"The person with Edmond was later arrested on an outstanding warrant," Bristow said.

Politis cried Sunday when asked about the shooting. She said she knows the victim and shooter.

"It happened so fast," she said. "This is why I hate guns. We must put an end to gun violence in this country. These two men knew each other. This shouldn't have happened."

Politis confirmed a woman who lives at her house was attacked, but she didn't want to comment on whether the shooting was in self-defense.

She also declined comment on whether the dispute involved drugs.

"I am not choosing sides who was right and who was wrong," Politis said. "I am just saying violence happens and can't be undone."

Politis said the argument was over $10.

"I cared for both of them and I know the pain both families are going through," Politis said.

Politis said she heard the shot and came running into the room where it occurred, finding Edmond on the ground.

"I squeezed his hand and told him to hang on," Politis said. "I kissed his forehead. He looked at me. I will never forget what I saw. You don't forget a person dying in front of you. I will pray for both of them until the day I die."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.

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