BRADENTON - A week after the assassination of a man at a youth football practice, Bradenton Police struggle to develop new leads in a crime that hundreds of people witnessed. The case took a new turn with the arrest of the victim's son after a traffic stop that BPD says revealed two assault rifles and a 9mm pistol in a stolen car.
Some believe that police are trying not to solve a case, but end a war.
Police won't say that Brenton Coleman, Jr., 21, his uncle Gerrell Houston, 27, and one other person sought revenge for Brenton Coleman's death, "but with the traffic stop, and us recovering guns, some sort of violence was averted," says Bradenton Police Captain William Fowler, adding that bullet casings found at a shooting in the 600 block of 24th Street East Monday came from the same kind of guns found in the car police say Coleman and Houston rode in before their arrest Wednesday. The third man involved escaped.
"I would prefer you not even shoot this neighborhood with your camera, man," said a man who did not want to be identified to an ABC 7 reporter at their home on 10th Street East where police arrested Coleman and Houston. "This is too serious. People's lives are on the line."
He called the shootings part of a war. "Of course you're going to know it's a war," he said. "Not everybody getting shot, it's a group of people going through a situation," he said.
Police acknowledge that that kind of fear could contribute to the paucity of tips they've gotten about Brenton Coleman Sr.'s death at the 13th Avenue Dream Center August 1. Still, the silence surprises Fowler, who says BPD has worked to build relationships and trust among people in the community designed to thwart such intimidation. "When you're talking about 400-500 people, you think somebody had their cell phone camera going recording their children playing football," he said.
But so far, he said, few tips have come in.