MANATEE -- Deputies haven't named a suspect in the shooting death of a 34-year-old man Sunday, but the killing was definitely a targeted shooting, according to Manatee sheriff's detectives.
David Joseph Ritch died at 6:20 a.m. Sunday at a local hospital, where he was being treated for a gunshot wound, according to a release.
A wounded Ritch had walked into the Walgreens at 5945 U.S. 301 N. in Ellenton at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, saying he had been shot nearby in the 5700 block of 18th Street East. He worked as a server
at the nearby Gio's Restaurant in Ellenton.
Dave Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said the shooting was not random.
"We have a few theories in terms of reasons, but we haven't been able to confirm any yet," he said.
Manatee County court records list no criminal history for Ritch, only a traffic infraction and a dismissed domestic dispute, both in 2011.
Ritch worked a Saturday night shift at Gio's, just a couple blocks north of the Walgreens. He had worked there since February, according to Niki Hartmann, a friend of Ritch's and the head bartender at Gio's. She said he lived right behind the Walgreens, and thinks the shooting could have happened when he was walking home from work.
"Everybody loved him. He was a best friend to everyone and got along with everybody," Hartmann said. "We have a lot of younger staff here and he always took care of them. He was everybody's big brother."
Hartmann said she hadn't heard of Ritch fighting with anyone that night, and she had no idea who would've wanted to shoot him. He had a 9-year-old son who is living in Colorado with his mother, and Ritch was getting ready to move there, she said.
Before working at Gio's, Ritch was a server at Woody's River Roo Pub & Grill, which is in the same area as Gio's and the Walgreens. Raven Woodring, a manager there, said he didn't know Ritch personally but that he had a lot of friends who still worked at Woody's.
Detectives were unable to locate a crime scene or any witnesses in the case, though Bristow said he does believe Ritch was telling the truth about where the shooting occurred.
The investigation continues and anyone with information on the slaying can call the sheriff's office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.
Services for Ritch will be held in North Carolina on Wednesday, according to a post on his Facebook page.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby