PALMETTO -- Palmetto police say they have developed several “persons of interest” in the mass shooting that killed two, wounded 22 more and rocked the community 10 days ago at the now-defunct Club Elite.
“Since immediately after the shootings occurred, we have had names, a couple of names, and a common theme that people have been telling us about,” said Palmetto police spokesman Lt. Scott Tyler. “We haven’t excluded any other theories, but a lot of tips centered around a couple of individuals and a common theme.”
The investigation has centered on these individuals.
“We’ve been following up on these names, and we feel they are solid persons-of-interest in this case,” Tyler said.
He declined to make the names public.
“These are individuals who will be difficult to get to,” Tyler said. “We only have one shot at them with our criminal justice system. We want to make sure all our I’s are dotted and our T’s are crossed.”
He and the small department are not unaware of the growing sense of urgency from people who want to see the case solved by arrests.
“People in the community who I’ve spoken to say they’re getting frustrated. They say they’ve read the articles and that it seems like we’re spinning our wheels,” Tyler said. “We want people to know we are very much moving forward with the case.”
Detectives, Tyler said, still need to hear the “little details” from people who saw the suspects in Palmetto the night of the shooting, saw them with weapons or can describe their vehicle.
“The little details are very important,” he said. “We can’t make arrests without actual physical proof that these individuals are responsible.”
The worst mass shooting in Manatee County history has already prompted vigils, prayer services, non-violence training and a proposal to create a violent crime task force.
Tyler said he couldn’t be happier at the support.
Said Tyler: “It’s always great to know that the community supports the efforts of its police department, but the bigger picture, the outpouring of support tells me the community has finally had enough of needless violence and is finally coming together to seek lasting solutions. That’s the biggest thing I take pride in.”
Anyone with information about the crime can call the Palmetto Police Department at (941) 723-4587 or Manatee County Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-8477.
Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.
Lee Williams, Herald investigative reporter, can be reached at 745-7041.