Lakewood Ranch residents who use Greenbrook Park on Greenbrook Boulevard were stunned Sunday afternoon to discover that a murder had occurred earlier in the day.
Early Sunday morning, a few minutes after midnight, Alexander Cherp, 23, was found by an on duty security guard suffering from upper body trauma outside his vehicle parked in Greenbrook Park, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office release.
Cherp was taken to the hospital where he later died, the release states.
The park, which is a block from Nolan Middle School in the 6600 block of Greenbrook Boulevard, is a favorite of parents and small children because of its colorful playground equipment and expansive fields to kick a soccer ball or fly a kite.
Eight-year Greenbrook Banks resident Jessica Oberdorf, a nanny in Sarasota, was walking her dog, Zoe, in Greenbrook Park on Sunday afternoon. She had not heard about the murder.
“Generally, Greenbrook Park is pretty safe,” Oberdorf said. “Lots of young children come to this park and it’s right next to the school. During school days a lot of kids are out here. I don’t really hear about anything bad happening.”
“Shocking,” Oberdorf said of the murder. “It’s not something you expect around here.”
Despite the murder, Oberdorf said she will continue to walk Zoe in Greenbrook Park.
“But it does make you a little wary,” Oberdorf added.
Two other adult residents of Greenbrook who were with their small children at Greenbrook Park did not want their names printed, but both said the incident was a shock.
“I moved here from St. Petersburg because of the quality of the schools here and the safe community,” one father said. “So far it’s been great, no problems. This was really surprising.”
Another Greenbrook resident, who also didn’t want his name used, said that the park was closed off with police tape early Sunday morning. The park was open Sunday afternoon with no trace of the incident.
Detectives, who believe the attack was not random but that Cherp was targeted for some reason, were working on several leads to uncover a suspect, but no arrests have been made at this time, according to the release.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.