TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – One person was killed and several others were injured in a shooting early Saturday morning on South Howard Avenue.
Now police have arrested Gary Omar Rivera Montanez, 22 in connection to the crime. He faces one count of first degree murder and four counts of attempted first degree murder.
The deceased victim has been identified as Mike Franck, 34. Heaven Mayo, 24, Justin King, 24, Donald Jocelin, 25 and Tobiasz Cudnik, 32 were all transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police are calling it a drive-by shooting, and say it was the result of an earlier dispute. It happened in a parking lot on the north side of the Palace Lounge on Howard Avenue.
According to witnesses, Montanez frequented the Palace Hookah Lounge, where he aggressively flirted with several female patrons. When one of the victims became uncomfortable with his flirting, she asked Schneider Simplice, a former bouncer for help. Simplice, along with the on-duty bouncer, Khaled Ghoneim, asked Montanez to leave.
When he left, he was heard to say “Don’t try me like this. I’ve got a gun,” and that he would be back.
At approximately 4:35 a.m. he returned and fired several shots into the crowd around the lounge and in the parking lot.
One bullet struck Franck in the chest and he died at the scene. Police don’t believe the victim was involved in the earlier altercation.
Montanez fled the scene, traveling north on Howard and was located at 4:42 a.m. at N Armenia Avenue and Dr.
Martin Luther King Blvd.
The TPD officer pulled him over and noticed a handgun and shell casings, which matched the description from the scene, were in plain sight and witnesses later identified Montanez as the shooter.
Montanez later confessed to firing into the crowd, but claims he did so in self-defense.
“I’m just thanking God at this point cause it could’ve been worse. Bullets flying everywhere. I could’ve gotten hit in the head. Somebody else could’ve gotten hit in the head .. But somebody did die,” said Donald Jocelin, one of the victims who was hit by a stray bullet.
“Right here. I had a bullet into here and come out here. You can’t see in now because I’ve got gauze but…. It’s kind of bleeding pretty bad right now but that’s where it happened,” Jocelin told WFLA’s Chip Osowski.
“Especially since I saw everything happen from beginning to end, it bothers me. Gun violence and seeing how senseless that was. Innocent victim died last night and he didn’t have to. And a young man is now in prison for who knows how long. ”
News Channel 8 is closely tracking this developing story and will bring you updates they become available.
WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON-
- Police: Tampa teacher spit on student’s face, slammed boy’s head onto desk
- Elizabeth Thomas, Tad Cummins spotted at Oklahoma Walmart in first confirmed sighting
- Pregnant teacher had sex, exchanged naked photos with student, 15, affidavit says
- Deputies: Pinellas Co. woman forced 9 year-old to fight 6 year-old
- Baby giraffe facts: What to expect when April’s baby is born
- Tuberculosis case confirmed on Pasco County school bus