Two more arrests for murder during robbery at Bradenton smoke shop

One suspect still sought

Smoke Shop Murder

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - Two more men have been arrested and charged with second degree murder in connection to a robbery at a Bradenton smoke shop.

James Brewer, 19, and Michael Hepner, 21, were taken into custody Friday for the murder of 23-year-old Mohammed Hamed.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says on Tuesday around 11pm, Brewer was driven to the Green Galaxy Smoke Shop on the 3000 block of 1st Street West by Hepner and entered the store in an attempt to distract Hamed.

James Brewer, 19, is charged with second degree murder in the robbery-related slaying of a smoke shop owner in Bradenton
James Brewer, 19, is charged with second degree murder in the robbery-related slaying of a smoke shop owner in Bradenton (Source: Manatee County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies say a short time later, 20-year-old Amado Alexander Zeppi and a fourth suspect exited the same vehicle and entered the store armed with an SKS rifle and a bayonet with their faces covered.

After entering the store, deputies say Brewer fled out the front door and got back in the car with Hepner. The sheriff’s office says Zeppi and the fourth suspect ordered Hamed to go into the back of the store and open a safe.

A 23-year-old man was murdered during what the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office describes as a robbery attempt at a Bradenton vape shop.
A 23-year-old man was murdered during what the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office describes as a robbery attempt at a Bradenton vape shop. (Source: Manatee County Sheriff's Office)
Michael Hepner, 21, has been charged with second degree murder in the robbery-related slaying of a smoke shop owner in Bradenton
Michael Hepner, 21, has been charged with second degree murder in the robbery-related slaying of a smoke shop owner in Bradenton (Source: Manatee County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies say they packed a bag full of items and the fourth suspect exited through the back of the store. They say Zeppi continued to point his weapon at Hamed and then, unprovoked, swung the firearm hitting Hamed with the bayonet end. That’s when deputies say the weapon went off, killing Hamed.

All four suspects then fled in Hepner’s vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office.

Zeppi was taken into custody Thursday. He’s also charged with second degree murder.

Deputies say Amado Alexander Zeppi killed a 23-year-old man during a robbery at a smoke shop in Bradenton. He's charged with second degree murder.
Deputies say Amado Alexander Zeppi killed a 23-year-old man during a robbery at a smoke shop in Bradenton. He's charged with second degree murder. (Source: Manatee County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies were called the smoke shop Tuesday night after being called by Hamed’s brother, who said he was checking in on the business’s remote video surveillance and could see two people with guns pointed at his brother and his brother on the ground.

Deputies rushed to the scene and established a perimeter. Inside the smoke shop, they found Hamed dead.

Manatee County Sheriff's Office is investigating a homicide investigation in Bradenton.
Manatee County Sheriff's Office is investigating a homicide investigation in Bradenton. (Source: Jackie Kelly)

The investigation continues and deputies say they’re actively searching for the fourth suspect. The sheriff’s office did not identify the suspect.

Anyone with information is asked to call 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.

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