Manatee man charged in 2006 gang murder

Pedro Garcia
Pedro Garcia(Manatee County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 10:56 AM EST
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - A Manatee County man has been charged in a 16-year-old unsolved homicide after detectives say he told jail inmates about the crime, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said.

Pedro Garcia, 40, was found Monday at a home on 30th Avenue West, where he was taken into custody.

Garcia is charged in the June 2006 murder of Guadalupe Vela, who was gunned down at a house on 33rd Avenue East after he and Garcia, who were rival gang members, had argued at a bar earlier in the day.

In October of 2006, Garcia was stopped for a traffic violation. Deputies found a 9mm pistol in Garcia’s car and arrested him for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Ballistics tests later linked the gun to the crime scene, but the rounds that struck Vela likely came from a different gun.

In the years that followed, detectives spoke to separate witnesses who said Garcia made statements about killing Vela.

Last summer, detectives learned that Garcia, while in the Manatee County Jail in 2015, confided to another inmate that he killed Vela – providing very specific details of that night and the crime scene. In July 2021, detectives interviewed a prisoner in the Wakulla Correctional Institution who also confirmed having witnessed Garcia shoot Vela.

Garcia was currently out on bond for an unrelated homicide case from 2014.

Detectives believe Garcia may have committed other violent crimes that remain unsolved from the early-to-mid-2000s. Anyone with information on Pedro “Pedico” Garcia is urged to contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 747-3011, or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward of up to $3,000, call Manatee Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS or visit www.ManateeCrimeStoppers.com.