PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Police seek woman's ex-boyfriend in death

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the Bradenton Herald on March 22, 2001.

Rebecca Martinez was asking for child support from her ex-boyfriend when he gunned her down at his doorstep Tuesday night, witnesses and deputies said.

Rebecca went to Jose Luis Alvarez's apartment in the 6100 block of 15th Street East with her cousin Rosa Martinez shortly after 11 p.m. and was dead less than an hour later, according to Manatee County Sheriff's Office reports.

Now authorities are searching for Alvarez, 20, known as "Leche," who is wanted in connection with the slaying. Detectives have an arrest warrant for Alvarez, charging him with murder.

Rosa Martinez, 18, said she watched in horror as her cousin Rebecca Martinez was shot several times by the man who relatives say is the father of Rebecca's 5-month-old daughter Mya Esabella.

Minutes later she held her cousin's baby and wept as sheriff's deputies cordoned off the crime scene.

"We came up to here, to his house and she knocked on his door like three or four times and said, 'I know you're in there, I know you're in there,' and as she was turning to leave, he came out and looked and said, 'What?' and then he put his hand back and grabbed something, and it was the gun, and he just started shooting her, like six or seven times. He was just shooting her constantly," Rosa Martinez said.

Detectives said Rebecca Martinez used an object to smash the windshield of Alvarez's girlfriend's car, then Alvarez shot her, according to sheriff's reports.

The suspect drove away after his girlfriend, identified by authorities only as Natasha, threw him a set of keys and yelled at him to leave before authorities arrived, Rosa Martinez said.

Manatee County Sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow said the girlfriend is cooperating with authorities and never helped Alvarez leave the scene.

The car Alvarez reportedly drove off in was located later that night, but Alvarez continues to elude authorities.

It was cold and raining late Tuesday as family and friends of the victim gathered at the crime scene, holding one another and crying. Manatee County Sheriff's deputies' patrol cars lined the street, lighting up the area in flashes of red and blue.

"She came here to talk to him about the baby. He never wanted to talk about the baby," Rosa Martinez said.

Alvarez had reportedly denied being the baby's father, according to Bristow. Neighbors said Alvarez, a Honduran native, had lived in the Oneco apartment for about a month and was repairing cars to earn money. He has served time in Manatee County jail on a variety of misdemeanor charges as well as a robbery, according to Bristow.

Friends and family say the 20-year-old victim was a single, working mother studying to get her General Equivalency Diploma and make a better life for her daughter and mother.

"She had gone to MTI (Manatee Technical Institute), but she was working now. She had a good job at Check 'n Go and was doing real good," Rosa Martinez said.

Besides her daughter, Rebecca leaves behind her mother Juanita Martinez, father Rafael Garcia and six brothers.

Jesus Reyes, the victim's uncle, said he had known Rebecca since she was a baby and had watched her become a hard-working, single mom.

"She was trying to go to school, to get a good education and get a better job so that she could raise her daughter and help my sister," Reyes said. "That was her goal. She was just a regular person who wanted to get ahead in life."

The victim's grandfather, Santiago Martinez, said Rebecca was always working to help her family.

"She was a good girl. She never left her mother's side or mine," Santiago Martinez said. "She was a young lady who did everything she could to help her mother. ... We were never left wanting because she was always there to help and provide for her family."

Alvarez's next door neighbor Antonio Santiago said Alvarez had threatened the victim before.

"I heard him say before that he was going to kill her and the baby, but later that day they were together and kissing," Santiago said.

Santiago did not realize what had occurred until the small parking lot was full of sheriff's deputies' patrol cars, he said.

"I was sleeping. I had watched the 10 o'clock news and I went to bed," Santiago said. "The next thing I knew, the place was full of police. It happened right there. I've been here two years and never, never has anything like this happened."

Pablo Jamarillo drove up to the suspect's apartment early Wednesday to drop off a car radio he needed installed. He said he's known Alvarez for about five years.

"He is a young man of the street. This is a surprise, I had just talked to him two days ago," Jamarillo said. "He is good people, a hard worker. He is so young to do something like this."

Jim Harmer, who lives near Alvarez's apartment, heard the gunfire and rushed outside to see what happened.

"It was like crack, crack, crack," Harmer said. "When I looked out there, there was a girl standing over her yelling, 'Are you OK? Are you OK?' It's just a senseless shooting."