MANATEE -- Orange flowers and a stuffed tiger toy were arranged roadside Sunday as a tribute to a Palmetto High School football player who died Christmas Day.
It also could stand as a memorial of how violent the days surrounding Christmas were this year in Manatee County.
The death of Palmetto's Kyle O'Halloran, 18, whose memorial was laid out near his home in the 1900 block of 24th Avenue West in Palmetto, was one of seven violent incidents between Dec. 19-27, which led to four deaths.
There were five shootings, a stabbing and the vehicular homicide involving O'Halloran. Arrests have been made in at least two of the seven incidents.
At about 5 p.m. Christmas Day, O'Halloran was killed when he lost his grip on a car as it sped away from his home in the 1800 block of 14th Street West during an apparent drug transaction gone awry, according
to the Palmetto Police Department.
Witnesses told police O'Halloran was hanging out of the driver's window of the Lincoln Town Car until he fell out, hit his head and died.
An autopsy to determine the cause of O'Halloran's death was conducted Friday, but results are not being made public, Deputy Chief Scott Tyler of the Palmetto Police Department said Sunday.
Roberto Betancourt, 20, has been charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, reckless driving and driving without a valid license, according to a police report. He was being held without bond in the Manatee County jail.
An outpouring of grief accompanied O'Halloran's death. On Sunday on the Palmetto High sports website, the top story was "Remembering Kyle."
"The Tiger football family lost a great kid," Tiger offensive coordinator Seth Varnadore tweeted on the website. "Boundless potential that won't be realized. Thoughts and prayers with his family. RIP Kyle."
Wrote Head Football Coach Dave Marino: "Kyle was an outstanding kid to have both in the classroom and out on the field. He will be greatly missed."
Rikki Allard commented on the website: "Palmetto High will never feel the same."
The string of violence began Friday, Dec. 19, with a stabbing in a Bradenton convenience store partking lot, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Victim Noe Garcia became involved in an altercation with two unidentified men about 9:56 p.m. in the parking lot of a 14th Street West convenience store. One suspect stabbed Garcia several times in the abdomen and he was taken to Blake Medical Center with nonlife-threatening injuries. No arrests have been made.
Hours later at 5:55 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, 25-year-old Samuel Conde was shot to death near a backyard afterhours bar on Ninth Street East. Conde was found lying in a driveway and taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
A second gunshot victim, a 29-year-old man, went to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. He was treated and released, according to the sheriff's office.
Gang activity may have contributed to the shooting, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. No arrests have been made.
In the fourth violent incident about 20 hours later at 1:20 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 21, Todd Thompson, 24, of Bradenton, and Vincent DiPina, 26, of Sarasota, were shot and killed in a gunfire exchange at Kay's Lounge in north Sarasota. Two other gunshot victims drove to Sarasota Memorial Hospital where they were treated for nonlife-threatening injuries and released.
No arrests have been made, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's website.
In the fifth incident at about 1:08 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office heard gunfire exchanged between people in two cars northbound in the 4000 block of Ninth Street East -- the third shooting incident of the holiday week. No injuries were reported.
Detectives said they are trying to determine if the shooting was linked to Conde's death.
In the sixth incident at 8:32 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, Trever Keith Johnson, 23, was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm when he allegedly fired two shots at a woman picking through his garbage in the 300 block of First Avenue East. The woman was not injured.
The fifth shooting of Christmas week occurred at 12:50 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 27, when a woman was struck while inside a vehicle in the 1400 block of 24th Street East, Palmetto, according to a Manatee County Sheriff's Office report. The woman was with a group of people drinking beer outside a residence when she heard shots fired and then realized she had been hit.
She was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, according to the Bradenton police said. No arrests have been made in the case.
Anyone with information about any of these cases is asked to call the sheriff's office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.