BRADENTON - A ski mask found on the ground may hold the key to solving the Sunday morning slaying of Juan Enrique Medina.
A resident at the end of the street of the duplexes near the 2200 block of 15th Street East found a ski mask that may have been the one worn by the man believed to have shot Medina, Medina's eldest son, Ivan Medina, 22, said Tuesday afternoon.
"We got a call from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and they said they are working a good lead," Ivan Medina said. "Based on the ski mask, they may even have a good lead on who it is. Someone down the street saw the ski mask on the ground."
Bradenton Police Department Captain William Fowler reacted to the comments Tuesday by saying, "At this time, because this is an active investigation, I can't comment. I will say detectives are pursuing some active leads at this point."
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Friends of Medina expressed deep sadness on Tuesday over the death of the man everyone knew as "Neighbor" because of his habit of inviting strangers to the patio of his duplex in the 2200 block of 15th Avenue East.
"He was a good and kind person and he will definitely be missed," said Mark Officer, the owner of the duplex where Medina, his wife, Emma Estrada, and four children have lived for 14 years.
Officer said the Medinas were great tenants.
"They have been with me a long time and I watched the kids grow up," Officer said. "Juan was one of those guys who would offer passing people a cold soda. He was a nice individual. It's a shame."
According to police reports and the family's account, Medina was shot about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when a friend he was with was pistol-whipped by a man who had just committed a pair of home invasion robberies a few duplexes over from Medina's.
"I think the man who did this saw two guys chilling on the patio and came over to rob someone again," said Ivan Medina.
The shooter was described as standing about 6 foot 2, weighing 170 pounds and may have been wearing a mask, according to police.
Anyone with any information about the slaying can call Manatee County homicide task force Detective Jim Curulla at 941-747-3011, ext. 2224 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.