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One Charged with Murder in Tampa Drive-By Shooting

Gary Omar Rivera Montanez | Tampa Police | Arrests

One man died and four others, including one woman, were injured in the early morning shooting, Tampa police said.

TAMPA – A man has been charged with murder after an early morning (April 1) shooting at a Tampa nightspot, police said.

Mike Franck, 34, of Tallahassee, died at the scene. Four others – Heaven Mayo, 24; Justin King, 24; Donald Jocelin, 25; and Tobiasz Cudnik, 32 – were wounded. One was treated at the scene. Three were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Gary Omar Rivera Montanez, 22, of Tampa, was charged with one count of first degree murder and four counts of attempted first degree murder. Tampa police officials said Montanez admitted being in an altercation at the Palace Hookah Lounge on south Howard Avenue and to firing into the crowd. Police said Montanez claimed he did so in self defense.

Montanez was a patron at the Palace Hookah Lounge, where he aggressively flirted with several female patrons, officers said. When the lounge closed, several patrons congregated in a parking lot on the north side of the building, where Montanez focused his aggressive flirting on a particular woman named Heaven Mayo. Police said she asked a man named Schneider Simplice for help. Montanez said he’d done nothing wrong. Simplice, a former bouncer at the Palace, joined the on-duty bouncer, Khaled Ghoneim, in asking Montanez to leave.

As Montanez left, officers said he was heard to say “Don’t try me like this. I’ve got a gun.” A witness told police Montanez said he would remember their faces and would be back.

At approximately 4:35 a.m., police said that Montanez, who was in his car, turned north onto Howard Avenue from W Platt Street and opened fire through his driver’s side window. He fired several shots into the crowd gathered around the lounge and in the parking lot.

One projectile struck Mr. Franck in the chest. He died at the scene. Police said there are no indications that Mr. Franck was involved in the earlier altercation. At least four other victims were also hit.

Montanez traveled north on Howard Avenue. Police sent out a notice asking other officers to be on the lookout for the vehicle and for Montanez. About 4:42 a.m., a Tampa police officer pulled over a car matching the description of the car Montanez was driving at N Armenia Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. The driver matched the description and a handgun and shell casings were in plain sight in the car. Police said witnesses later identified him as the shooter.

For information about the Tampa police, go to tampagov.net.

Tampa Police | Drive-By Shooting | Murder | Palace Hookah Lounge | Mike Franck | Crime | Arrests | TB Reporter

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One Charged with Murder in Tampa Drive-By Shooting
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One Charged with Murder in Tampa Drive-By Shooting
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One man died and four others, including one woman, were injured in the early morning shooting, Tampa police said.
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TB Reporter
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