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Child escapes injury in drive-by shooting in Manatee

MANATEE -- A 4-year-old boy narrowly escaped injury early Monday morning after bullets shattered the rear window of a car in which he had fallen asleep, according to the child’s mother and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Monica Salas’ 4-year-old son, Jose, was asleep in the back of her Nissan Altima when its back window was struck. Bullets also pierced two walls and a window inside the family’s home in the 400 block of 60th Avenue Drive West.

Salas and her son had just arrived home from the movies at 12:35 a.m. when gunfire erupted, according to her sister, Nancy Salas, who woke to gunfire.

“All I heard was, ‘Boom. Boom. Boom,’ like five times,” she said standing near the front door with a couple of bullet holes in it. “It sounded like firecrackers.”

Her sister was carrying a sleeping 5-year-old into the residence when the shooting took place with her 4-year-old still inside the car. Salas said it is the second time in three months their home has been shot at and she said she doesn’t know why.

Two residents from the home had been standing outside when the shooting occurred but were not injured.

The house and one of the vehicles parked in the driveway were struck, the report added.

Manatee County Sheriff Col. Chuck Hagaman said a suspect has been identified in the shooting after deputies conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle matching the description given by witnesses at the shooting who said they had seen a dark sedan drive away.

The driver fled and the passenger was detained, Hagaman said.

“We believe we know who (the driver) is,” Hagaman said, declining to give further details about the investigation.

A stray bullet also struck a residence about a block away in the 300 block of 60th Avenue West, according to the sheriff’s office. No one was hurt there.

It was the second drive-by shooting within two hours and in the same 15-block neighborhood.

Earlier, someone fired several gunshots into a home on the 6000 block of 11th Street East at 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to a news release.

The drive-by took place on the same street where 30-year-old Nicholas McGee was shot in the head by gunmen on Oct. 13 this year.

No arrests have been made in his slaying.

There was no indication in reports whether investigators believe the shootings are connected.