MANATEE — A digital surveillance camera mounted at Costantino Auto Body Shop in the 3100 block of Ninth Street West caught horrific images of critically wounded Eric Sutton staggering backwards into the shop, only to collapse to the ground after several moments.
Sutton, 46, would die soon after, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
“He had a lot of blood around his face and head, and I was wiping it to keep his airways open,” said Russ Altenbach, co-owner of Costantino Auto Body on Friday.
Altenbach rushed out to Sutton after being notified by office manager Maritza Mutch that something was wrong about 5 p.m. Thursday.
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“Customers often look under their cars and I thought that was what he was doing,” Mutch said. “But then I saw blood around his head in a circle and he wasn’t moving.”
Altenbach, who watched the video over and over on Friday to try to discover the moment in the distance when the victim may have gotten shot, was the first one to offer aid.
“I was rubbing his back and saying, ‘Hang in there. The ambulance will be here in a second.’ But he couldn’t talk.”
Altenbach said he lifted Sutton’s shirt to see if he could stem blood flow from a wound, but there was no flow on his back, just an entry wound and some blood splatter.
“I think he got shot in the back and it probably entered his lung and didn’t exit,” Altenbach said. “He might have drowned in his own blood.”
An autopsy found that Sutton died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the sheriff's office.
Jeremy Sneperger, 26, has been charged with murder in the case. He was arrested Thursday evening in Bradenton.