MANATEE -- Detective have a suspect in the shooting death of 33-year-old Antonio Martinez, who became unincorporated Manatee County’s first homicide victim of 2011 Friday.
Detectives with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office have interviewed a person they believe may have been part of the argument that ended with the taking of Martinez’s life in the 1100 block of 35th Avenue West, said Dave Bristow, a sheriff’s office spokesman.
“While we do have a suspect, there has not been an arrest and the person has not been charged,” Bristow said Monday. “We are still working the case.”
In 2009, unincorporated Manatee County suffered through a record annual high of 22 homicides, Bristow said.
To not have a homicide through nearly five months of this year in unincorporated Manatee County is a deep relief for the sheriff’soffice and the safety of the public, Bristow said.
“I don’t want to jinx us in this matter, but it is amazing and fortunate that we went until late May to have something like this happen,” Bristow said.
There is nothing Bristow can pinpoint as far as a strategy that has led to the drastic decrease of homicides in just two years.
“We all wish we could draw up a list of homicide prevention tips like we do burglary prevention tips, but there is no such thing,” Bristow said. “Homicides are impossible to predict. Some years, for no reason, they spike. I mean we have continued to crack down on gang violence, but we were doing that back in 2009 also. “Homicides are usually tracked to drugs, senseless arguments and emotions,” Bristow added.
Martinez’s death seems to fall in the category of arguments, Bristow said.
“We know some people, including Martinez, got into an argument that, obviously, escalated,” Bristow said. “We do not know at this time if Martinez also had a firearm.”
The shooting occurred around 9:45 p.m. Friday.
Once wounded, Martinez ran through several duplexes in the area to get away from his attackers before he collapsed in front of a residence, Lt. Dennis Cunningham said on Saturday.
Martinez was flown by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg where he was later pronounced dead.