MANATEE -- Two men have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of Charles Lehnert, the most recent homicide to hit the area, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Daniel Lee Mann and James Michael Hardy, both 22, were arrested Monday afternoon in Tallahassee on warrants for murder. It appears the shooting was drug related, deputies said in a news release early Monday evening.
According to the sheriff's office, detectives received information that Mann and Hardy were involved in the shooting and that they were at a motel in Tallahassee.
Tallahassee police responded and the two were arrested without incident. Both suspects were booked into the Leon County Jail.
Lehnert, 31, of Bradenton, was walking at 6:38 p.m. Saturday through the parking lot of Gravely of Bradenton at 5732 15th St. E. when he got into a physical confrontation and was shot and killed, deputies said.
Early Sunday, the sheriff's office released surveillance camera photos of two possible suspects and their vehicle, a red SUV.
"We're just hoping to get some leads generated from the photos that we distributed," sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow said earlier Monday. "And to this point, nothing really to release."
Lehnert's mother, Renee Gibson Lehnert, has been struggling to cope since the fatal shooting. When she received a call about her son being shot, the 49-year-old Bradenton resident said she went to the scene and saw the body of her son covered up by a sheet in the middle of the parking lot.
"That's a horrible thing for any parent to have to see," she told the Herald Monday evening. "You don't sleep, you don't eat. It hurts... it hurts. Nobody should ever have to go through this. Nobody. You're not supposed to bury your kids."
Her son was one of the happiest and funniest individuals she knew, Lehnert added.
"Everybody that met him, loved him... except for these two guys, apparently," she said. "When he walked in a room, honey, he just brightened it up."
Kevin French, Renee's longtime fiancé, created a GoFundMe campaign Monday for Lehnert's daughter.
"He had no life insurance, no Social Security and no income," the campaign message stated. "This little girl didn't deserve to lose her father in this way so anything will help. Thank you all in advance. The Lehnert Family."
The campaign page, which set a goal of $25,000, included photos of a blonde girl smiling.
"We did it for her college fund, her car, her wedding," French said. "Anything that her father should have been able to pay for."
In response to deputies stating the shooting appeared to be drug-related, Renee said she doesn't know if that's the truth, but that she also wouldn't say it wasn't. She brought up the ongoing drug issue in Manatee County.
"People are dying over pills and meth and heroin. Families are losing their sons and their daughters and these kids are losing their mothers and their fathers. It's horrible. It's so bad," she said. "My son was a drug addict... no parent wants to see their son addicted to anything, or their daughter, or their grandkids for goodness' sake."
After learning of the arrests of both Mann and Hardy, Renee said the news has not only hurt her family.
"My son lost his life, and I know them boys got a momma somewhere," she said. "Their sons are not dead like mine, but their life is ruined now... that's a shame. My God, that's a shame."
Lehnert's death was the third homicide in less than a week in Manatee County, and the sixth so far in 2016.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.