A manhunt continued into Friday night after detectives identified a possible suspect in the fatal shooting of a man and woman in Oneco Friday afternoon.
The victims were identified as Lashawna Stevenson-Weeks, 27, and Barry Joseph, 32. They are both from Manatee County, but the sheriff’s office said they did not live where they were killed.
Detectives are looking for a light-skinned, black male who was last seen wearing a red hat and white T-shirt, according to Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells.
The man was last seen driving a small, compact dark-blue or black car, Wells said, but the vehicle’s make or model was undetermined.
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“He was seen leaving this location southbound on 15th Street Court East heading toward 53rd Avenue East,” Wells said.
Deputies and other detectives are searching other areas of the county for the suspect, Wells added.
“We do have some witnesses that saw some things and heard some things,” he said.
Detectives with the Manatee Homicide Investigative Unit worked into the night, with Friday’s double-homicide the third homicide case in five days. This week’s four homicides are the first of the year in Manatee County.
At about 1:20 p.m., deputies and paramedics were called to the 5200 block of 15th Street Court East in Bradenton to reports of a shooting.
The 911 caller reported to dispatchers seeing a shooting across the street, according to Manatee County Public Safety.
When deputies arrived, they found two victims of an apparent homicide, Wells told the Herald shortly after the fatal shooting.
“Right now, we are trying to determine exactly what transpired,” he said. “We were interviewing witnesses and canvassing the area for any further witnesses or any information we can gather.”
As of Friday night, the sheriff’s office had not released any additional details about how the victims were killed.
Neighbor heard gunfire
Francis Slack was home sick from work when she heard someone pounding on her front door, but she felt too ill to get out of bed.
“Then I heard a bang, and I thought it was a car back-firing,” Slack said.
Moments later when she heard sirens and her three dogs were still barking, Slack discovered that something had happened across the street from her home. She said she called her husband, who rushed home from work to discover police tape crossing several yards, including his, as the sheriff’s office processed the crime scene across the street.
Other than the occasional party, the street is usually very quiet, she and her husband, Tom, said. That wasn’t the case when they first moved in about a year ago, however.
“At first, it was like a revolving door over there, on the other side of the street,” he added. “But then it kind of mellowed out.”
Detectives spoke with neighbors, as well as loved ones who made their way to the scene. A few people had to be stopped from their attempts to rush over to the victims, overcome with grief and anger. Emotions and tensions were high as media outlets arrived in the area and as the number of investigators on scene grew.
Hours into the investigation, a close family friend of the victim arrived on scene was seen telling detectives about surveillance cameras on the home directly next door to the crime scene. She pointed to one located on a tree in the front yard and another along the side of the house, the same neighboring side to which both victims were found.
The crime scene was cleared just as the sun set on Friday. Both bodies were taken to the morgue, where autopsies were to be conducted. A Ford Explorer parked next to at least one of the bodies was taken away by a wrecker.
Anyone with information about the case can call the sheriff’s office at 941-747-3011, ext. 2519, or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, contact Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS or submit an e-tip at manateecrimestoppers.com.