A 36-year-old man was carrying a gun when he was found shot to death on a Bradenton street corner early Thursday, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
At 6:22 a.m. Thursday, deputies responding to a 911 call of a man down found Charles E. Saffore Jr., dead from at least one gunshot wound, at the corner of 58th Avenue Drive East and 10th Street Court East in the Oneco neighborhood. The 911 caller did not report hearing shots being fired.
The Manatee County Homicide Investigative Unit was called out to the scene soon after and is investigating Saffore’s death.
Saffore was carrying a gun when he was was found, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow.
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Other details of what may have been found in his possession aren’t not yet being released.
Detectives, unsure of where Saffore was shot, are not ruling out that he was shot elsewhere and made his way to the street corner.
“We are certainly very interested to know what led to his being shot. We are trying to determine where he was and what he was doing,” Bristow said. “This is a case where we could really use information from the public, especially people that know him and knew what he was doing.”
A crowd of more than 100 people gathered at the scene early Thursday, including family members of the victim.
“All I want is my (expletive) child off the ground," the victim’s father, Charles E. Saffore Sr., shouted at the scene.
Saffore argued with a homicide detective at the scene, becoming aggressive and insisting his son’s body be removed and that he be allowed to see him.
The crowd at the scene continued to grow and rallied behind the elder Saffore and the victim’s mother.
At about 11 a.m., before the victim’s body was loaded onto the transport van to be taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, his parents were allowed come to approach the gurney and his face was uncovered.
“My baby, my baby,” the grief-stricken mother shrieked over and over.
Emotions turned into panic, as the mother — overcome with her emotions — appeared to have a medical episode. Investigators and family had to carry her over to the grass and an ambulance was called to the scene.
Even after the body was driven away and as crime technicians began to clear the scene, there were still a couple neighbors and loved ones gathered, many crying and others waiting to watch paramedics arrive.
Neighbors said everyone in the community knew the younger Saffore and that he was a great guy. Rudy McCullough said he knew Saffore for 15 years.
"(He) was a nice person, everybody in the community liked him," McCullough said, adding he didn't think anyone was out to get him. "That's why we can't understand," why this happened.
Saffore has had numerous run-ins with the law.
Most recently in May, Safforre was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charges were later dropped in August by the State Attorney’s Office.
The charges were based on a confrontation that happened not far from where Safforre was killed.
At about 6 p.m. May 26, a man said that Saffore confronted him about a dog, brandishing a chrome semi-automatic firearm, according to the affidavit for the arrest warrant. The victim alleged that Saffore fired a round at ground next to him and then pistol-whipped him several times.
Saffore was out on bonds totaling $3,500 at the time of his death, for charges of possession of a controlled substance for cocaine, tampering with evidence and possession of marijuana less than 20 grams. He was scheduled to stand trial in January for that case.
In 2004, Saffore was released from prison after serving about five years and seven months for a 7-year sentence for four counts of armed robbery with a deadly weapon. He had initially sentenced to three years, and was released in 1999 after serving just under two years of his sentence but he was sent back to prison after be violated his probation.
Saffore was last released from prison in May 2012, after serving about three years and eight months for separate convictions for charges of aggravated fleeing to elude law enforcement and possession of cocaine.
Hannah Morse, Herald reporter, contributed to this report.