PALMETTO — The Palmetto Police Department is investigating a homicide that occurred after a home invasion at 4:30 a.m. Sunday in the 500 block of 11th Street West, which is migrant worker housing in Palmetto.
The victim, 33 year-old Israel Hernandez, and two roommates were asleep when three men entered their apartment and attacked them, according to the PPD report.
The intruders demanded money and beat all three men.
The other two roommates, a 30-year-old man and a 52-year-old man, were not seriously injured in the attack, according to police.
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Hernandez was conscious when officers arrived to rush him to Blake Medical Center, where he later died from injuries sustained during the attack.
The only description investigators have of the attackers is all three are males between the ages of 20 and 40. One suspect was dressed in a white T-shirt and blue jeans. The other two were dressed all in black.
All three are believed to have fled the apartment on foot and were still at large Sunday night.
On Sunday night, Palmetto Deputy Chief Scott Tyler said he does not yet want to reveal details of the crime, such as the extent of Hernandez’s injuries or the murder weapon.
“Right now we would rather not comment on all that since we are in the midst of an investigation,” Tyler said.
Tyler said Hernandez was well known in the Manatee County migrant community and many of his friends came by the police station Sunday night to ask questions about the murder and try to help police find the killers.
“People are upset that this has happened,” Tyler said. “I believe Mr. Hernandez was a migrant worker and worked in our Palmetto packing houses. He also lived in a migrant housing area that is owned by the packing companies.
“I don’t know if Mr. Hernandez has family here, but we have spoken to his mom and sister and they are coming from out of state,” Tyler added.
Tyler said the victims didn’t recognize the attackers.
The Manatee County Homicide Task Force is investigating. Persons with information about this crime are urged to contact the Palmetto Police Department at 941-723-4587 or Detective Chad Oyler at 941-224-4988. Persons with information may also contact the Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477. Callers may remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward. The city of Palmetto Community Redevelopment Authority will also match any Crime Stopper reward.