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UPDATED: Police hunt for suspect in double murder of employees at Longboat’s Zota Beach Resort

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Police are hunting for suspects who have fled the scene after shooting and killing two male employees at Longboat Key’s Zota Beach Resort at 4711 Gulf of Mexico Drive. 

Longboat Police Chief Pete Cumming reports that police were initially called to respond to an apparent robbery that occurred at about 2:40 a.m. and found two people dead inside the resort.

A surveillance video shows a man wielding a pistol as he walks through the bar at the Zota Resort. The man is masked with a long-sleeved white oxford shirt and dark pants. Another video also shows the gunman walking toward a door carrying a cashbox that contained likely between $300 and $600. See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZOskbXOC9A

The victims are Sarasota resident Timothy Hurley, 59, who was a Night Manager at the Zota Resort and Bradenton resident Kevin Carter, 51, who worked with Victory Security as the evening security guard at the Zota.

Police are examining the surveillance video and have asked public for any information on the suspect, who is considered armed and dangerous.

Cumming told Longboat Key News, “A weapon was involved and we are reviewing our license plate recognition cameras at both ends of the island. There is usually not much car activity at that time of the night.”

Acting Town Manager Paul Dezzi said police did have confirmation of two vehicles exiting the island on the north end of the key shortly after the murders.

Dezzi, said he received a page while sleeping at 3:26 a.m. and recognized right away that the incident was at the Zota Beach Resort. He said he turned his radio on and heard that multiple people may have been shot or injured. Dezzi drove to Longboat Key where Longboat Key and Manatee County Sheriff’s officers were on the scene.

Dezzi said that once the police department had cleared the first floor of the Zota Hotel, the firefighter/EMT’s were brought in to check on the victims, and they were deceased.

Dezzi said the officers did not know at the time if the shooter was still in the vicinity.

The police searched the building south of Zota as several of those units are vacant and one of the owners wished to ensure the perpetrator was not hiding. Dezzi said that the police performed the search and brought in a K-9 unit, and the K-9 did not find anyone on the perimeter of the property. Dezzi added that he believes the suspect(s) got in a car and left from the north side of the Zota building.

“I was impressed by the thoroughness of the police work, and I personally feel they did a great job in a situation that is uncommon on Longboat Key. They organized the investigation and worked with the occupants of Zota and the management team to place the guests in another hotel. I am very confident there will be an arrest shortly,” said Dezzi.

 

Details unfold

Cumming said the police department was called at 3:26 a.m. on Thursday morning, about a reported shooting. The investigation shows that the deaths occurred at 2:41 a.m. Police determined the time of death by analyzing the Zota security video tape that was released Friday in hope that the suspect will be recognized by the public. The call to the police was made by a guest who came out into the hotel lobby area and saw the victims.  Cumming said that the gunman was covered head-to-toe with a mask, white oxford shirt, gloves, a black t-shirt and long pants.

Cumming said that he credits Longboat Key Club General Manager Jeff Mayers and his staff, who helped to seamlessly relocate the guests.

“It was a complex situation, done extremely well, and I credit not only our officers and Dezzi, but the Zota staff as well as Mayers and his staff for moving the guests out of Zota and into another hotel without interfering with the crime scene,” said Cumming.

Zota Beach Resort opened in June after an expansion and renovation. The property is owned by Ocean Properties, which also owns the Longboat Key Club, Lido Beach Resort as well as dozens of hotels and resorts throughout the United States. The privately-held company is run in part by owner Mark Walsh, who told Longboat Key News that he was “shocked and saddened,” to hear of the situation and that he thinks of Longboat Key as “the last place something like this would happen.”

“We are stunned and extremely saddened. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victims and their co-workers,” said Walsh.

Longboat Police are working with all area agencies and while it is Longboat Police as the primary investigation team, Manatee County is processing the crime scene due to their resources within their crime scene unit.

“It appears to be a robbery that went wrong,” said Cumming.

 

Possible connection

In what may or may not be a related incident, Carter, one of the victims, had called police at 2:10 a.m. previously on July 21 to report a suspicious situation at the hotel. He had called to state that while he was walking the property, he observed a female in a white, possibly Toyota, sedan with the engine running on the southeast side of the parking lot. Carter then noticed a male leaning against a wall in the covered parking area. Carter was told by the female that she had just registered online for a room, but he felt they were acting suspiciously. When Carter went inside to validate her statement, he found that there were no recent registrations, and called police. When officers arrived, they were unable to locate the vehicle or the couple, they had left the Zota property.

The incident is the first homicide on Longboat Key since 2000 when a man was stabbed to death on Linley Street, said Cumming.

A reward of $18,000 is being offered by Crime Stoppers, Zota and the Manatee Sherif’s Department for any information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information should contact the Longboat Key Police Department, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.

 

This story will be updated as events unfold.

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Longboat Key News

5 Responses for “UPDATED: Police hunt for suspect in double murder of employees at Longboat’s Zota Beach Resort”

  1. Tom says:

    Thank you Lee

  2. Lee says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Tom. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and the victims’ families & co-workers.

  3. Alan Janssens says:

    Had there been big signs advising those who come onto LBK, that all license plates are photographed, perhaps this crime would not have occurred. (perhaps, we don’t have the entire story)

  4. Tom says:

    Thank you Maureen
    Kevin was my partner of 24 yrs
    He is missed

  5. MAUREEN HUNT says:

    This is just awful news. Praying for the families and the employees.

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