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Detectives continue to search for answers in fatal home invasion

MANATEE — Detectives today are investigating whether a Bradenton man was involved in a Sunday morning home invasion in which a pregnant woman and her baby were shot and killed.

Everrick Houston, 28, was taken by two male friends to Manatee Memorial Hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound to the upper body after they told deputies they found him lying in the road on First Street at 1:24 a.m., according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report.

Just minutes before that, at about 1:20 a.m., 19-year-old Crystal Johnson — nearly seven months pregnant — was fatally shot after unidentified men broke into her home at DeSoto Village Apartments just a few streets away. Detectives say two or three unidentified men dressed in black kicked down the front door of the first-floor Bradenton apartment in the 3800 block of Fifth Street East and fired multiple rounds.

As of today, no arrest had been made.

“But there are people we are taking a hard look at,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

As of this morning, Houston had not been named a suspect, but Bristow said detectives are trying to figure out how he was shot.

“We’ve talked to him but haven’t gotten a whole lot of information,” Bristow said. “Obviously we are still investigating whether or not he was involved in this. If he’s not, where did he get shot. We’d like to know that.”

Johnson was shot in the upper body as she reportedly exited her bedroom to see what was happening. Johnson’s boyfriend, Lawrence Funsch, 21, was also in the home. During the hail of gunfire Funsch fired back, shooting at least one of the suspects, detectives say.

Houston, who remained hospitalized in critical condition, is expected to live Bristow said. He has a lengthy criminal history including 2007 convictions of possession of cocaine and carrying a concealed firearm.

In April, he was arrested on an armed robbery charge after a man told Bradenton Police that Houston held a gun up to him and took Oxycodone pills from him. Prosecutors declined charging him for the crime, court records show.

Johnson was pronounced dead after she was transported to Manatee Memorial Hospital early Sunday morning. Her baby, Lariah Faith Funsch, was delivered and transported to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, where she was listed in critical condition and later died.

During their search of the home where the fatal shooting took place, deputies recovered the gun used to shoot the suspect and also found drugs

“There was evidence in the house that leads us to believe that someone may have been dealing,” Bristow said.

He would not what type of drugs were found or what type of gun was used.

As of today, Bristow said investigators are trying to determine who the drugs belonged to.

Court records show that in July 2007 Funsch pleaded no contest to possession of a controlled substance, hydrocodone, after a November 2006 arrest. Then in April 2008, he was arrested on a charge of possession of marijuana. Prosecutors declined charging him with that crime.