MANATEE -- Since Oct. 5, when North Port police charged Katrelle D’mario Johnson, 19, in the shooting death of Manatee School For the Arts teacher Kenneth Ellis, there has been speculation that a second arrest would be made.
North Port police officials did nothing Monday to diffuse that speculation.
“We are still doing our investigations into a second person involved in the shooting of Ken Ellis,” North Port Police Capt. Robert Estrada said Monday. “We have not made an arrest. There’s not much more I can release. We have cleared all family members and students of Mr. Ellis and friends from being suspects in the shooting.”
Police say Johnson, a North Port High School student, confessed during a jailhouse interview to the March 29 killing of Ellis, a popular teacher at the Manatee County school.
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Ellis was shot at his North Port home as he answered the door bell.
Johnson was already in jail in connection with the June 21 slaying of Robert Mann in Sarasota when he was linked to the Ellis case, Estrada said.
It is not known if any of the hundreds of interviews conducted by North Port police at Manatee School For the Arts helped lead authorities to Johnson.
“I really don’t know if any of them was helpful,” Estrada said.
“At the time, we didn’t know if the shooter was someone Mr. Ellis knew that held some sort of grudge, but it turned out to be a random act,” Estrada said. “Mr. Ellis happened to be the unfortunate victim of a home invasion robbery attempt.”
Police now believe that Johnson and an accomplice drove down Ellis’ street in North Port just looking for a house to rob.
“They saw Mr. Ellis’ wife in the window and thought she was alone and the house would be an easy target,” Estrada said. “Then, when they rang the doorbell, they came face to face with Mr. Ellis and shot him. Mr. Ellis was a surprise for them.”
When first interviewed about Ellis’ death, Johnson reportedly told police detectives, “I didn’t kill him,” according to an arrest report.
But Johnson later recanted his story and led investigators to the weapons used in both homicide cases, including a stolen .22-caliber revolver that was used to shoot Ellis, Estrada said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.