MANATEE -- The death of a man found in a parked van in Palmetto on Tuesday is being investigated as a homicide, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies responded to the 700 block of 23rd Street East at about 9:30 a.m. after receiving a call from a neighbor who discovered the body of Vicente Valerio-Centeno, 47.
"After examining the body, detectives are treating the case as a homicide," a news release states. "An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death."
The neighbor described what he saw Tuesday morning.
“I had seen the van with the doors open this morning when I went to drop my kids off at school,” said the neighbor, who did not want to be named.
When he came back, another neighbor knocked on his door and asked him to check if the man she’d found inside the van was dead.
“I checked and said ‘Yeah, he’s dead,’” he said. “There was a lot of blood. It is scary that it happened on Halloween.”
At about noon, gunshots could be heard in the area as investigators and the medical examiner’s office searched for clues.
Mary Johnson, 81, lives in the neighborhood but said she didn’t hear or see anything suspicious Monday night.
“I saw the cops here this morning and I was surprised,” Johnson said.
Johnson has been in the neighborhood for about 30 years and said it’s a tight-knit area filled with families.
“It’s kind of frightening,” Johnson said. “I don’t understand it myself.”
Valerio-Centeno's family on Tuesday declined to comment.