PALMETTO -- The Manatee County Homicide Task Force combed the streets Monday morning around the 500 block of 11th Street West in Palmetto looking for clues about who killed Israel Hernandez.
No arrests had been made Monday, said Detective Chad Oyler of the Palmetto Police Department.
The white block duplex with red trim where Hernandez lived with two roommates in the 500 block of 11th Street West is within walking distance of the Pacific Tomato Growers packing house on busy 10th Street West in Palmetto.
The apartment, which has sheets for curtains, is utilitarian and neat.
About the only thing not basic to living needs in the apartment were four religious candles lighted on bare cement floor in Hernadez's memory Monday morning. An unopened can of beer was placed by the candles.
Hernandez, 33, who authorities said was a well-known local migrant worker who labored off and on for many local packing houses, was killed after a 4:30 a.m. Sunday home invasion inside the small apartment by three suspects, according to Palmetto police.
Oyler was at the apartment Monday morning with members of the Manatee County Homicide Task Force. Authorities are still withholding the manner of Hernandez's death and his injuries to aid the investigation.
Oyler said he is trying to find a motive for the crime.
"It was probably one of two scenarios," Oyler said. "Either it was a robbery gone bad or, for some reason, Mr. Hernandez was targeted. At this time we don't know which one."
Interviews in the neighborhood
convinced Oyler the victim was an important person in the migrant community.
"He was definitely well-liked," Oyler said.
Hernandez and his two roommates were asleep when the attackers entered their apartment, said Palmetto Deputy Chief Scott Tyler.
The roommates, a 30-year-old man and a 52-year-old man, were not seriously injured in the attack, Tyler said.
Hernandez was conscious when officers arrived but it was not known if he could give them any information.
Hernandez was rushed to Blake Medical Center where he died, Tyler said.
The attackers were described as between the ages of 20 and 40.
Oyler said someone in the community may know who killed Hernandez and he urged them to give an anonymous tip via the Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477. Tipsters can also contact the Palmetto Police Department at 941-723-4587 or Oyler at 941-224-4988.