Manhunt on for Bradenton mass murder suspect
(WFLA.COM) BRADENTON – The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is searching for Andres “Andy” Avalos, age 33, who is suspected of killing three people in Bradenton.
At 1:20 pm on Thursday, deputies responded to a shooting at the Bayshore Baptist Church located in the 6502 14th St W.
When deputies arrived, they discovered the body of the church’s pastor, James Battle. One person witnessed the shooting, according to Dave Bristow, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.
Deputies then learned of two women found dead at a residence at 1208 67th St. NW in Bradenton.
One of the victims at the residence was identified as Amber Avalos, who is the wife of the murder suspect. The other woman has been identified as 46-year-old Denise Potter, who was a neighbor of the Avalos. Bristow said that detectives are processing the crime scene at the house and do not yet know the cause of death for the women.
Neighbors, who live near the Bradenton home where two people were murdered, are on edge, especially with a killer still out there.
Carol Lavalla knew victim, Amber Avalos.
“My grandkids and her kids played together, about the same age,” said Lavalla.
People remember Amber as a good mother. “Somebody could be mean to her which I can’t imagine anybody being mean to her, she would just forgive so easy, just a very loving person and she was a good momma. Took care of her children really well,” said Carol Lavalla.
Bristow said that investigators believe the two women were killed first and then Avalos went to the church and killed Battle. Investigators have an idea about a possible motive, which they are not sharing at this time because they do not have enough information. When asked, Bristow said a crime of passion is a possibility.
Some neighbors we met have harsh words for Andy Avalos, One described him as a drug-using, gun-fanatic lunatic, who thought Amber was cheating on him with the church Pastor.
But another neighbor tells me, he saw no red flags during a recent visit. “And he says I really appreciate you being nice to my kids. And he just seemed like a regular sort of guy,” said Tom Jacobs.
Deputies say Andy Avalos was last seen in the 6500 block of 14th Street West, Bradenton, driving a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, gold in color, tag #484VTZ. The sheriff’s office said all of the suspect’s six children are accounted for at this time.
The sheriff’s office also said they were talking with a very distraught witness at the church as their investigation into the triple murder begins.
Four schools were initially placed on lockdown as a precaution while deputies search for a suspect, including Manatee High School, King Middle School, Miller Elementary School and Palma Sola Elementary. The lockdowns were lifted at all schools by 3:45 pm.