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Police working leads in search for killer

PALMETTO — Detectives are still following up on leads after a Bradenton man was shot and killed in a parking lot at an industrial park, according to the Palmetto Police Department.

John Carl Ruger, 44, and his green Dodge Caravan were found by a police sergeant on routine patrol early Tuesday at 1475 12th St. E. in the parking lot of Piano Distributors.

“It doesn’t seem like a random crime,” Palmetto Lt. Scott Tyler said Wednesday at the police station.

Tyler wouldn’t confirm if detectives already have suspects identified, but did say detectives are “anxious to talk to several people.”

It’s unclear why Ruger, not an employee at the piano warehouse, was at that location.

“That’s something we’re still looking into. We have no idea why he ended up over there. It’s a little off the beaten track unless you know it’s there,” said Tyler, describing the winding road through the industrial park.

Detectives searched Ruger’s van and found little evidence while the medical examiner’s office performed an autopsy.

Ruger was shot once. Police believe he was killed some time between midnight and 4 a.m.

Family members in previous interviews said Ruger had fallen on hard times. His family was making funeral arrangements Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

Tyler said while detectives are still working on fresh leads, they are also asking for the public’s help in solving the case.

“We encourage people to call us or Crime Stoppers, and they can remain anonymous,” he said.

Ruger’s slaying marks the first homicide of the year in Manatee County.

Anyone with any information about Ruger’s slaying can contact Palmetto Police Department Detective Chad Oyler (941) 721-2000, ext. 306, or Detective Ryan LaRowe, ext. 125.

Callers can also remain anonymous and possibly become eligible for a cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS(8477).

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