PALMETTO -- Two women seen by witnesses circling the area where Israel Hernandez was killed early Sunday are being sought for questioning by the Palmetto Police Department.
"Police investigators would like to talk to these individuals and would like them to come forward," Palmetto Deputy Chief Scott Tyler said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
Witnesses told police they saw the women circling the area of 11th Street West and Fifth Avenue West, Palmetto, in a red or maroon SUV, possibly a Ford Expedition or a similar large SUV at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Tyler said,
"Investigators would also like to hear from people in the community who may know who these individuals are or who may have seen them before," Tyler said. "Any information will help.
Anyone with information about the women can call the Palmetto Police Department at 941-723-4587, Cpl. Chad Oyler at 941-224-4988 (email@example.com) or Detective Chris Cavazos at 941-737-9195 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Callers may remain anonymous.
Palmetto police also created a poster and a flier they will begin distributing Wednesday.
The posters show two photographs of Hernandez, 33, who was killed about 4:30 a.m. Sunday when three attackers burst into the duplex he shared with two roommates in the 500 block of 11th Street West.
The poster, printed in English and in Spanish, asks
anyone who knows anything about the home invasion to call authorities.
Palmetto Police Department have interviewed the roommates, who were not badly hurt.
"We don't believe they knew the attackers," Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells said Tuesday.
Police are still not sure whether the attack was a robbery gone bad or a specific attack on Hernandez, Wells said.
But police do know Hernandez was admired in the migrant community. Apparently, Hernandez did not have family in Palmetto but had many friends.
"From what we have learned, Mr. Hernandez was not married and did not have children," Wells said. "We do have our victim advocate getting set to meet some of his family members who have traveled here."
Wells said many wish to know more details surrounding Hernandez's death, such as how he was killed, but police are not revealing the manner of death for investigative reasons.
"If someone is giving us credible information during an interview or lying, we can tell since the details involving Mr. Hernandez's death have not yet been made public," Wells said.
Wells said all those details will come out in the near future.
The poster description of the suspects says only that all three are males between the ages of 20 and 40.
One suspect was dressed in a white T-shirt and blue jeans. The other two were dressed all in black. All three are believed to have fled the apartment on foot.
The poster advises the public it can call Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-8477. Callers may remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward. The Palmetto Community Redevelopment Authority will also match any Crime Stopper reward, according to the poster.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.