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Gunfire jolts neighbors at Avalon Square

BRADENTON -- Gunfire rang out at Avalon Square Apartments on Friday, leaving no injuries but damage to property and some shaken residents.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a tall man wearing black baggy pants and a painter’s mask who came from around the corner of one of the apartment buildings at 10:23 a.m. and fired a long-barreled weapon at another man.

The victim fell into some bushes after the gunfire and then fled east, according to the sheriff’s office.

Since there have been no reported gunshot injuries at area hospitals and clinics, deputies believe the bullet did not strike anyone.

But it did strike a banister in front of apartment 214, shattering the wood, and then struck the right front quarter panel of a vehicle parked in front of apartment 114.

The victim took off so fast that he not only dropped his ball cap and a bag of crack cocaine, but also ran out of his sneakers, said Lt. William Vitaioli, of the sheriff’s office.

It’s believed that the victim ran into Miller’s Dutch Kitchen and then was picked up by a green Monte Carlo with rims, Vitaioli added.

“We have put out a be-on-the-lookout for the Monte Carlo,” Vitaioli said.

Deputies located at least one spent round from the firearm the shooter used and also several bullets that may have fallen from his pocket, Vitaioli said.

“We can’t say if this was an attempted robbery, because the victim fled the scene,” Vitaioli said. “We are also pretty sure the victim dropped the baggie with crack cocaine.”

Some neighbors at the complex, 3506 14th St. W., were shaken by the shooting.

Belquis Cortez, who lives in a studio apartment directly upstairs from the shattered wooden banister, was smoking a cigarette when she heard the gunfire. She ran outside and saw a man running barefoot.

“He was running as fast as he could,” Cortez said.

Cortez said she plans to move from her $459-per-month studio as soon as she can find another place.

“I’m scared all the time,” said the woman. “I’m afraid to be here. We had an explosion and fire at one apartment recently and there is always a lot of noise, including gunfire.”

“We get a significant amount of calls from Avalon Square,” Vitaioli said. “Many are domestic problems.”

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.