Police: Bradenton man who claimed victim committed suicide charged with murder

Police: Bradenton man who claimed victim committed suicide charged with murder
The Sarasota Police Department has arrested a 20-year-old man from Bradenton. (Source: Sarasota Police Department)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Sarasota Police Department has arrested a 20-year-old man from Bradenton. Juan Esparza is being charged with murder and armed burglary in connection to a death that occurred over the weekend.

Police say that they responded to a home on 6th Street in Sarasota on Saturday around 10:00 a.m after receiving a call about a possible suicide that had taken place.

Officers say that they did not receive a response at the door so they forcibly entered the home. When they went inside, police say they found the victim dead on the living room floor from an apparent gunshot wound.

Police say they were alerted by the victim’s brother, who told officers he woke up Saturday morning to discover Esparza’s had sent him a text message around 1am claiming Esparza was video chatting with the victim when the victim shot himself in the head.

But police say no firearm was in the home and a witness told officers that Esparza had been there the night before the victim was found.

Detectives interviewed several others who say Esparza was angry at the victim over comments the victim reportedly made about Esparza and Esparza’s girlfriend at the time. Witnesses told police Esparza left his Bradenton home saying he was going to “handle it" and implying he had a firearm and when he returned, he placed a firearm on the couch.

A taxi service told police they drove Esparza to the victim’s residence the night before the victim was found.

This case is an active and ongoing investigation. Anyone with any information about this incident should contact the Sarasota Police Department at 941-263-6836 or CrimeStoppers of Sarasota at 941-366-TIPS.

The victim’s name is being withheld due to Marsy’s Law.

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