BRADENTON — Shooting victim Courtney Walker didn’t take long to make an impression at her new job.
The sorrow of Walker’s boss and co-workers at Tequila Beach Sport Grille at the news of her violent passing Sunday is evidence of that.
Police say Walker’s boyfriend, Alexfel Roman Sotomayor, 23, shot and killed Walker in her apartment at the Perico Apartments complex on Perico Island. He has been arrested on a charge of murder.
Tequila Beach owner Jeremy Runo called Walker, his employee of about six months, a “wonderful person” who was “loved by all at Tequila Beach.”
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“Courtney’s death comes as a shock to the entire family at Tequila Beach,” he said in a written statement.
Runo said Monday he did not want to discuss Walker’s death further to allow police to continue to investigate the shooting. He said he is concentrating on supporting his staff and Walker’s family, who are devastated by her death.
“My focus right now is taking care of everyone during the grieving process,” Runo said.
Meanwhile, a judge Monday morning ordered Sotomayor held without bond on a murder charge. Sotomayor arrived to the first appearance in a jail jumpsuit with his wrists shackled. He said nothing other than that he understood the charge against him and his rights.
Sotomayor is accused of shooting 33-year-old Walker in the head, and trying to cover it up by telling police armed intruders shot his girlfriend. But Bradenton police detectives didn’t buy his story after witnesses came forward saying Sotomayor had talked about the killing.
Police officers found Walker shot to death in her apartment at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, after an acquaintance of Sotomayor called 911.
The witness said Sotomayor called saying he had shot Walker and asked if he could come over to wash blood and gun powder residue off him. The witness refused and contacted authorities, according to police reports.
Sotomayor also call 911 about 20 minutes later to report he had found his girlfriend shot in her apartment. He later turned up at a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office substation and told detectives three men had burst into Walker’s apartment and shot her in an attempted robbery.
Another 911 caller and friend of Walker said she was on the phone with the victim when she screamed “Alex,” and heard what sounded like someone loading a bullet in a gun, before the connection went dead.
Bradenton Deputy Police Chief William Tokajer said detectives are still investigating the time line of when all of the 911 calls came in, including Sotomayor’s actions between when police found Walker and when he showed up at the sheriff’s substation.
Sotomayor’s past is also being investigated, as detectives have him listed as a known drug dealer. He has past convictions in Sarasota County for possession of heroin with intent to sell and possession of a controlled substance.
And he has recently been the subject of investigation into possible drug dealing in Bradenton, Tokajer said.