MANATEE -- A 22-year-old man was found dead last night outside a house in East Bradenton, according to the Manatee Sheriff's Office.
David Moreno-Rojas was discovered dead from an apparent gunshot wound when deputies arrived at about 11:10 p.m. Friday at the 400 block of 33rd Avenue East in Bradenton, according to a news release.
Deputies were dispatched after reports of gunfire in the neighborhood, sheriff's office spokesman Dave Bristow said.
Moreno-Rojas was found outdoors behind two duplexes. He did not live in the area.
Sunday would have been his 23rd birthday.
Detectives with the Manatee County Homicide Task Force are following several leads in the case, the report said, but no arrests have been made.
Kim Stewart normally hangs outside the duplex she lives on weekend nights, but had gone to bed early with her sick granddaughter. Her son was sleeping on the floor near
her bed, she said, when he must have heard the shot.
"'Who got shot?'" Stewart said she asked. "By the time I came out, there was officers everywhere."
Stewart said she heard the shooter depart in a blue Chrysler 200.
"Somebody had to be in the car waiting for him because people began shouting," Stewart said.
She said that the shooting worried her because people often linger around the duplexes in that area. "I don't want to be standing outside on a Thursday or Friday and be an innocent bystander," Stewart said. "There are just too many gangs."
Hanfredra Hall also lives in the one of the duplexes near where Moreno-Rojas was found. She recalled hearing three gunshots.
"The first shot sounded farther away," Hall said. "Then I heard it right here."
Hall, who said she was accustomed the occasional gunfire in the neighborhood, didn't go outside nor peer out the window. Often people are just shooting the air, she said.
"I didn't know anything had happened," Hall said. "But then some friends called to check on me because they saw police all around where I live."
Family and friends gathered outside Moreno-Rojas' West Bradenton house Saturday.
"He was a good boy," his mother Georgina Rojas said. "Everybody knew him here."
The family, originally from Mexico, has lived in Bradenton for nine years.
Georgina Rojas said she was asleep when police came to her door late Friday night to tell her about her son's death. He was one of five children, she added. Moreno-Rojas left behind a 3-year-old daughter and nearly 2-year-old son.
His sister, Tahania Moreno-Rojas, sobbed quietly, saying she would remember about her brother was "everything."
The loss caught the family by surprise, she said, adding that she received the call from her mother shortly after the police came to the home.
"He liked to spend time with his family and friends," his sister said.
The family said they didn't know anyone who would want to hurt him.
Moreno-Rojas' prior arrest records includes charges of driving without a valid license and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. Neither resulted in a conviction.
Anyone with information should call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.