PALMETTO — One day after her son was shot to death, a mother is coping with the unexpected loss.
A 26-year-old man was shot to death in Palmetto Tuesday night, Palmetto police said.
About 8:45 p.m., officers found Patrick Dunbar slumped over behind the wheel of a car in the front yard of a residence in the 200 block of 11th Street Drive West.
At the time of the shooting, his mother, Toni Dunbar, was at a church in Tampa. When she heard the news, she called Manatee Memorial Hospital, where someone told her to pray.
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Dunbar did. When she arrived at the hospital, Dunbar said she had mentally prepared herself with the fact that she would have to take care of her son while he recovered.
But she received different news.
“I really wasn’t expecting for them to tell me that he died,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes.
Police are now investigating the homicide, which is the seventh slaying in Manatee County this year, and the first in the city of Palmetto.
Dunbar said Patrick was her oldest son. She has two others sons and one daughter.
“I’m just gonna miss him,” she said. “But I got good memories of my son.”
In recent months, Dunbar said Patrick was becoming more family-oriented and spent more time with his loved ones rather than with friends.
“I didn’t even know anybody my son was associated with,” she said.
He loved her cooking, she said, and often took home-cooked meals — his favorites included oxtail, turkey wings and yellow rice — to his friends when he went out.
Dunbar said Patrick was the father of two children: a 6-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son.
The shooting took place in the 200 block of 11th Street Drive West. A man who answered the door at the home said he didn’t know about the shooting. Crime scene tape peered out of a garbage can nearby.
A woman who identified herself as Patrick’s cousin said he had just pulled into her driveway.
When she came back outside, the woman, who declined to give her name in fear of retaliation, saw Patrick’s car on the other side of the road and heard gunshots. She ran inside the house.
“My cousin didn’t even make it in the house,” she said. “How did that happen? I don’t know.”
Dunbar said she has faith in God that her son’s killer will be arrested. “He’ll (God) let everything we need to know be known.”
The last time she saw Patrick was Tuesday night before she headed out to the church. He told her, “Mom, I love you.”
“And that was the last words he said,” Dunbar said.
Anyone with information about what happened can call the Palmetto Police Department at 941-723-4587 or the Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.