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Killing in motel lot prompts massive manhunt

MANATEE — Detectives are investigating a fatal shooting outside a motel room near Interstate 75 and State Road 64 on Friday afternoon.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office was contacted at about 12:30 p.m. Friday when people at the Sunrise Inn, 668 67th St. Circle E., heard a couple of gunshots and found a metro Atlanta man lying next to his silver, four-door Pontiac Grand Am with Cobb County tags.

Clevon Murray, 29, of Austell, Ga., died at the scene. His girlfriend and children, who live out of the area, were notified.

Murray and two other people checked into the motel room Thursday, according to authorities. The two people with him were inside the motel room when the shooting happened. Detectives interviewed those people, according to a release.

Detectives suspect Murray was targeted in the shooting and believe it may be drug related.

Shortly after the shooting, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office helicopters flew over the area near S.R. 64 and I-75 searching for persons of interest until about 5 p.m.

Detectives searched Murray’s room and another motel room across the parking lot.

No one was inside when detectives entered.

Authorities were able to search the room after the motel manager evicted the guests.

Late Friday night deputies searched for three persons of interest who left the scene shortly after Murray’s death. Two of the men have unrelated warrants issued for their arrest. The identities of the men have not been released.

One of the men has dark features, wings tattooed on his shoulders and is bald. The other man has short dreadlocks.

“They could be connected with the homicide one way or another,” said Sheriff Brad Steube in a telephone interview Friday evening.

Another search for the men started at about 6:15 p.m. when deputies were contacted by a woman near Morgan Johnson Road and 13th Avenue East who spotted them.

About three hours later the search continued with another perimeter set up and a helicopter from Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office patroling.

Local fields, wooded areas and residences were searched. As of press time, the men were not located.

Initially after Murray’s death, dozens of sheriff’s office patrol cars also were deployed to the scene and SWAT teams were prepared to search the surrounding area including 66st Street Court East and 64th Street Court East.

Across the street from the motel in the parking lot of the Burger King on State Road 64, the county SWAT team suited up and entered a wooded area with K-9 tracking units in the lead.

Patrol units stayed behind fast food restaurants for hours and parked along the grassy medians of State Road 64.

Nearby Bashaw Elementary was on lockdown for about two hours as police searched for the suspect.

“The school was never in an immediate danger; we did this as a precautionary measure,” said Manatee County School District spokeswoman Margie Nanney.

Murray’s death marks the eighth homicide in Manatee County this year. Half of those cases, including Murray’s, are without arrests.

Anyone with any information can contact Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tom Doughty 747-3011 ext. 2511 or remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).