Search continues for killer of Bradenton teen Dakota Smith

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BRADENTON, FL - There's heartache and sorrow tonight for the mother of a Bradenton teenager murdered as he walked home Thursday evening.

Fifteen-year-old Dakota Smith was found dead around 8:45 p.m. on February 20 at the 2500 block of 13th Avenue East. Investigators say he was shot in the back of the head. Homicide detectives swarmed the area Thursday night looking for evidence and interview neighbors, the focus now on finding whoever was responsible for the murder.

"He just went over to see a friend and was walking home from there to meet me at home. I got home and he wasn't there," says Smith's mother, Pamela Cash. "Someone said my son was shot and I ran as fast as I could to get where he was at."

According to witnesses we spoke to, Smith was confronted by two people before fleeing by jumping a fence and heading toward his home.

Smith was a freshman at Horizons Academy High School in Bradenton. He had no criminal record, and was known as a caring individual who was willing to help out his neighbors.

"At this time it appears to be a random shooting," said Capt. Warren Merriman of the Bradenton Police Department. "The young man did live in the area."

"Dakota wore his heart on his sleeve and he was a really sweet son," his mother says, "... and I know he liked to write poems."