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Motive for drive-by shootings remains a mystery

BRADENTON — Authorities are still trying to find out the motivation for two drive-by shootings Thursday in Bradenton that are likely related, but a lack of cooperation from family members of the woman wounded in one of the attacks has hindered the investigation, police say.

Police believe two teenage sons of the 49-year-old woman, severely wounded in a 6:15 a.m. drive-by shooting in the 1700 block of 17th Street East, know who opened fire on their home with an AK-47 and handgun, but are not talking.

As bullets tore through the home, one hit the woman and emergency personnel had to airlift her to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg in critical condition. She has since been upgraded to stable condition, according to Bradenton Police Deputy Chief William Tokajer.

“We believe they know why this happened and who did it, but they will not cooperate with us,” Tokajer said of the sons, whose names have not been released.

The Bradenton shooting came shortly after another violent drive-by shooting in Manatee County, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office officials. Detectives from the Bradenton Police Department and sheriff’s office are working together.

“It’s not a hundred percent, but we are working under the assumption they are related,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

At 6 a.m. Thursday, gunmen opened fire from a car on a home in the 1100 block of Orlando Avenue, also using an AK-47 and handgun. Bullets ripped through windows and walls of the Bradenton home, but an adult couple and two teenagers in the home were uninjured.

A 19-year-old man in the home has been questioned by detectives, but Bristow said a motive in that shooting also continues to be investigated.

A sheriff’s report released Friday on the Orlando Avenue shooting said a witness saw a “newer model 4-door car,” possibly a Toyota, pull up in front of the house before gunfire erupted from the vehicle.

Deputies responding to the scene found 19 AK-47 shell casings, and nine casings fired from a 9mm handgun on the street.

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