MANATEE — A woman said she prayed over Charles W. Davis Jr. as he slumped over on a dusty unpaved driveway near a cedar tree.
“Don’t think about the wounds. Just pray,” said the 42-year-old woman to Davis. She was outside smoking a cigarette just before the fatal shooting took place.
Davis, 32, was gunned down outside a duplex in the 700 block of 60th Avenue Terrace West at about 9:40 p.m. Monday, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities are looking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect, said Dave Bristow, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.
The woman, who declined to give her name out of fear for her safety, said she saw Davis running toward her.
The street, which has no street lights near the residence, prevented her from being able to see who it was. She was afraid someone was coming to shoot up the duplex so she ducked behind the wall, hearing several rounds of gunfire, she said.
When she came out, she heard a gasping sound. She said Davis, who was wearing a dark ball cap, was on his knees in the dirt. He was struggling to breathe but was still conscious.
Residents at the duplex said they believe Davis was possibly robbed in the street and stumbled over hoping to get help from friends inside.
Davis was found with crack cocaine when he was killed, according to authorities.
Bristow said it’s possible Davis’ death was drug related.
“There could have been another motive involved. When you find someone murdered with narcotics, you obviously look at that as a possible motive,” he said.
Davis, who had a long criminal history, was released from prison in April on weapons and drug charges after serving five years, according to the Department of Corrections Web site.
According to the sheriff’s office, he was arrested more than a dozen times in the late 1990s in Manatee County.
Davis had a pending case in court on charges of cocaine possession, marijuana possession with intent to sell and driving with a suspended license from an arrest July 25, according to reports.
It’s unknown who wanted to kill Davis.
Residents at the duplex said they believe perhaps Davis’ past caught up with him.
“It came back on him,” said the woman. “There’s no telling who did it. He dealt with a lot of people.”
She said she yelled for someone to bring him a pillow while waiting for help to arrive. “I told him God loved him and forgave him for his sins. I held his hand and prayed,” she said. “I believe he went to Heaven and got his forgiveness. God forgives everybody. I think he’s with the Father.”
Anyone with any information about Davis’ death can contact Detective Jeff Bliss at 747-3011, ext. 2159 or remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a cash reward by calling Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).