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Divers find two guns in Manatee River allegedly used in drive-by shootings

MANATEE -- Members of the sheriff's dive team found two guns Tuesday morning in the waters of Manatee River along DeSoto Bridge.

Divers had been searching the river for weapons allegedly used in two drive-by shootings Saturday.

Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said the dive team will continue to search for possible additional evidence.

Three suspects face charges related to the incidents. According to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office website, Jokevious Bell, 20, and Deandre Lilly, 21, have posted bail. Anthony Sanchez, 20, is still at the Manatee County jail without bond. Sanchez is charged with two counts of violating probation/community control.

Searching the river for evidence is much different than in the more typical "wooded or grassy areas," Bristow said.

"Whenever you're in the water, there's that challenge," he said. "(The dive team) is trained for this, but it makes it more difficult to find something, especially when you're dealing with a large body of water."

Bristow said ambiguous factors such as tide and weight of the object add to the challenge.

"They're just diving, just searching," he said. "I'm not aware of anything you can use underwater other than your eyes."

The first shooting took place at approximately 4:40 p.m. Saturday at the 2800 block of Sixth Street East in Bradenton. Deputies arrived on the scene while others searched the area for the suspect vehicle, said Lt. Joel Perez of the sheriff's office.

Deputies witnessed the second shooting 30 minutes later in the 500 block of 30th Avenue East in Bradenton. No one was shot in either incident, Perez said.

Deputies pursued the suspect vehicle across the DeSoto Bridge into Palmetto, where the suspects allegedly threw the weapon from the car, over the bridge and into the water.

When nearing the intersection of U.S. 41 North and 17th Street East in Palmetto, the suspect vehicle struck another vehicle making a left turn at the traffic signal.

The second vehicle sustained mostly front-end damage. The driver and passenger were taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital for evaluation, Perez said.

The collision caused the suspects' vehicle to go off the shoulder and into a wall at Racetrac gas station before rolling over on its side. The three suspects were treated for minor injuries at Manatee Memorial Hospital, Perez said.

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