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Silence after killings vexes sheriff

MANATEE — The recent shooting deaths of two young men has angered Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube because of the silence that surrounds the killings.

No one has called his office, he said.

“Someone out there knows who did this,” Steube said Saturday. “We need their help. We have very little information on this case.”

What Steube does know is that the two young men were shot Friday when a car pulled up behind them and the occupants opened fire as the young men were walking.

One man died in the street, in the 1100 block of 59th Avenue Drive East. The other was rushed to Manatee Memorial Hospital and there was pronounced dead.

Steube was able to identify the young men Saturday, but his office has not yet been able to reach relatives to inform them of the deaths.

Witnesses told deputies they thought the car with the shooters inside was possibly a Mercury Marquis, possibly blue.

“If there is anyone that is a witness or observed this shooting, I would love for them to contact us,” Steube said. “They should call the Sheriff’s Office and ask to speak to a detective. We need information from the community in order to solve these crimes.”

Manatee County residents shouldn’t feel they need to stay in their houses, despite a high total of homicides — more than 20 — so far this year.

“These shootings are being done by bad guys who know who their targets are,” Steube said. “These are not random shootings.”

Asked if the double homicide was gang-related, Steube indicated he wanted to keep that information private right now. But he did say deputies are saturating the area where the shooting occurred.

“If it is gang-related, there could be retaliations,” Steube said.

Those who have information on this shooting don’t have to reveal their names, Steube said. The sheriff’s number is 747-3011.

Girl shot in forehead

A 17-year-old girl is in serious, but stable condition at Bayfront Medical Center after being shot in the forehead Friday, Randy Warren, a sheriff’s spokesman, said Saturday.

Omar Flores, 17, the girl’s boyfriend, told deputies he accidentally shot the young woman as the two were handling the gun at Flores residence, 2520 30th Ave. E.

Flores has been charged with culpable negligence and improper exhibition of a firearm, Steube said.

The young woman was identified by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, but as she is a juvenile and a victim of a possible crime, the Bradenton Herald is not naming her.

Steube said he is still investigating this case.

“We can’t comment further,” Steube said.

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