Earnestine M. Gardner, 44, died about six hours after being shot early Sunday morning in front of a pale green block house at 5832 11th St. E., Bradenton, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed.
Sheriff’s Office officials do not think Gardner lived at that house, but they didn’t immediately have an address for her, Dave Bristow, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday morning, Bristow had sent out a new release stating that Gardner had been shot but was in stable condition. At that time, the sheriff’s office was searching for the perpetrator of a non-fatal shooting.
She didn’t pull through. This is now a homicide.
Dave Bristow, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office
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“She didn’t pull through,” Bristow said at 2:30 p.m., just after Gardner died at Blake Medical Center. “This is now a homicide.”
Although family and friends of Gardner could not immediately be reached to provide more details about Gardner, the victim did struggle with run-ins with the law between 1997 and 2006, according to Manatee County court records.
During that period, the court established 16 cases against Gardner, most for driving without a license.
Her most serious offense among five felonies in Manatee County appears to be a conviction on possession of cocaine, a controlled substance, court records show.
Three neighbors interviewed by the Herald on Sunday morning did not want to say their name or give details. Pieces of torn yellow crime tape were visible in the front yard.
Bristow said the sheriff’s office doesn’t yet know why Gardner was at the house and why she was shot.
Bristow said that deputies did find drugs at the scene.
“A witness told us they heard an argument,” Bristow said.
As of Sunday afternoon, there have been no arrests in the homicide and there is no suspect or suspects, Bristow said.
Since no one has yet to provide a description of the shooter or shooters, Bristow said the sheriff’s office is hoping for help from the public.
“If someone on the block saw a person or a vehicle we would like them to call us,” Bristow added.
People with information are asked to call the sheriff’s office at 941-747-3011 or Crimestoppers at 866-634-TIPS.