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Man’s killing might be drug related

MANATEE — The discovery of crack cocaine on a man gunned down in front of a Manatee duplex Monday night has detectives believing his killing may be drug related, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s detectives are still investigating the 9:40 p.m. killing of 32-year-old Charles Davis Jr. outside a residence in the 700 block of 60th Avenue Terrace West.

Investigators found Davis lying in a driveway with several gunshot wounds, and crack cocaine on him. Emergency personnel airlifted Davis to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where he later died.

Residents of the duplex at first did not cooperate with detectives but later admitted to knowing Davis, while claiming not to know anything about his death or the drugs he was carrying, sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said.

“Because he had drugs, we are looking at this as possibly drug related, but we don’t know for sure yet,” said Bristow.

Davis has a troubled past that sheriff’s detectives are also examining, Bristow said. He had been arrested more than a dozen times since the late 1990s in Manatee, most recently July 25 on charges of cocaine possession, marijuana possession with intent to sell and driving with a suspended license.

Sheriff’s reports say Davis was driving erratically when deputies pulled him over on 61st Avenue East. A search of his pockets revealed bags of marijuana, and deputies also looked in his car, where they found cocaine, according to sheriff’s reports.

Davis had been released in April from state prison after serving more than three years on numerous drug and weapons charges.

Bristow said there are few leads in the homicide case, and detectives are asking for the public’s help.

“We haven’t had great cooperation on this,” he said.

Davis’ death is the 25th homicide investigated in Manatee County this year. His killing will be the 23rd to be counted officially as a homicide by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Sarasota authorities took over the case of a man found in Manatee who had been dismembered and set on fire on U.S. 41 because detectives found the killing took place in Sarasota, Bristow said. Also, the June 5 stabbing death of a man in a migrant camp will not be prosecuted as a homicide because the state attorney’s officer ruled that it was self-defense.

Still, at 23 this already has been a record-breaking year for homicides in the county. The previous record was 22 in 2007.

Anyone with information on Davis’ killing can call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011, ext. 2159, or Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.