Palmetto shooting victim becomes city's first 2014 homicide

rdymond@bradenton.comMarch 24, 2014 

PALMETTO — Sarasota’s Javare Thomas, the 26-year-old sitting in the front passenger seat of a car as it was sprayed with bullets from a passing pickup truck in Palmetto early Saturday, has died of his wounds.

Thomas became the first Palmetto homicide of the year when he died Sunday, according to Palmetto Deputy Chief Scott Tyler.

Thomas and two friends left The Hall in Palmetto, a nightclub at 1330 U.S. 301, and were traveling westbound on Haben Boulevard about 2:45 a.m. when a truck’s occupants opened fire on its passenger side, said Palmetto Police Department Detective Chad Oyler of the Manatee County Homicide Task Force investigating the case.

“We think a black pickup truck with dark-tinted windows and possibly chrome trim and about a 4-inch lift came up beside the car in the 600 block of Haben Boulevard and opened fire,” Oyler said. “We estimate five to seven shots were fired.”

Two other car occupants with Thomas were uninjured and have been cooperative, Oyler said. “We’ve gotten lots of help from the friends and Javare’s family,” Oyler said.

Suspects and a motive still elude Palmetto police. Interviews with Thomas’ friends provided authorities with nothing resembling a motive, Oyler said. Police are hoping someone at the The Hall in Palmetto saw something that could help ID the shooters. “Right now I can say the motive for the shooting is not known,” Oyler said. “Whether it was a misidentification by the shooters or maybe the victim got into something minor at The Hall, we don’t know for sure. There have been no independent witnesses so far. Nothing from the statements we have received leads us in a certain way. We don’t have anything that would indicate a conflict.”

Although the homicide occurred at 2:45 a.m., there was probably some traffic on the road, Oyler said. “We are hoping there might have been other vehicles on the road at the time since the nightclub was letting out,” Oyler said. “Even if someone has some more detail on the black pickup it would help the investigation.”

Oyler visited the unconscious Thomas on Saturday at Manatee Memorial Hospital and met with his family. “He was not able to speak to us,” Oyler said.

Manatee County’s first homicide of 2014 was Willie Lee Jones, shot on Snead Island in January.

Bradenton is still investigating its first homicide of the year, the February shooting death of teenager Dakota Smith.

Anyone with information about the Thomas shooting is urged to contact Oyler at 941-224-4988 or Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477. Crime Stoppers callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

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

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