BRADENTON -- The son and brother of a man shot to death last week are believed to be connected with a drive-by shooting four days after the slaying, a Bradenton police detective testified Thursday.
Detective Greg Price, at hearings for Brenton Coleman Jr., 21, and Gerrell Houston, 27, said bullet casings found at the scene of the drive-by Monday on 22nd Street East match the AK-47 rifles in the stolen vehicle they were reportedly riding in shortly before they were arrested early Wednesday.
Coleman is the son and Houston is the brother of Brenton Coleman Sr., who was shot to death Aug. 1 outside the 13 AV Dream Center in Bradenton. Several hundred people were at the community center at the time of the shooting, but no arrests have been made.
"There were casings found at the scene of Monday's shooting in the same location where the vehicle was observed speeding," Price said. "They had gray casings and that is what was recovered in the rifles."
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Deputy Chief Warren Merriman said the casings came from a high-powered rifle like those recovered, but it is still unclear if they came from the guns used in the drive-by shooting.
"We have no forensics connecting the guns to the drive-by shooting," Merriman said. "We are testing to see but gray bullet casings are a common color."
Judge Diana Moreland ordered Coleman and Houston held in jail without bond.
Coleman is charged with armed trespassing and trespassing of a conveyance, as well as violating terms of a supervised release after he was arrested earlier on drug, weapons and theft charges.
Houston is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of ammunition by a felon and trespassing, as well as failure to appear in court on a previous charge.
The two were arrested at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday after they allegedly fled from
the stolen vehicle to a nearby residence.
The residents in the home, apparently unfamiliar with either suspect, cooperated with police and exited the home.
Following a brief standoff with police, Houston and Coleman surrendered.
The driver of the vehicle, who also fled when a patrol officer attempted a traffic stop, reportedly dropped a loaded 9 mm handgun in the backyard of residence.
The gun was recoveredby police but the driver hasnot been found or identified.
Price also testified Houston admitted following his arrest to sitting in the front seat and Houston admitted being in the back seat of the stolen vehicle.
The AK-47s were reportedly visible to the officer approaching the vehicle, one on the back seat and the other shoved under the driver's seat from the back seat.
Coleman made a final plea to Moreland to be allowed to attend his father's funeral Friday.
"Man, I need a bond. I'm trying go to my dad's funeral," Coleman said.
"That is not happening today. You are not going to have a bond on those charges.If I have anything to sayabout it, you wouldn't havea bond on any of thosecharges all along," Moreland said.
"I certainly think they have probable cause that you were out on an offense and you committed new offenses. Not only did you commit new offenses but you committed an armed offense, so enough for the court to say no bond."
Coleman mumbled and complained but was abruptly dismissed.
"Goodbye Mr. Coleman. Goodbye Mr. Coleman," Moreland said.
The State Attorney's Office also requested the court consider an order for a Nevia hearing to determine the origin of the funds for the purchase of the firearms.
"We find there may be a link between whatever bond money is posted to criminal activity," the assistant state attorney said.
"Wow," Coleman said as his open case involving sale of scheduled substances with firearms while in a vehicle with others was referenced.
"Now that there is even more connection to criminal enterprise that we are asking for an order to be signed," she said.
Moreland said she would sign the order by the end of Thursday if case law in support were provided.
Brenton Coleman Sr.'s funeral services are scheduled this weekend and there will a police presence, Merriman said.
Two Manatee County sheriff's deputies will accompany the procession, which is common practice in instances such as this.
Anyone with information can call CrimeStoppers at 866-634-8477.
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.