Arrest made in Sarasota restaurant murder - WFLA News Channel 8

Arrest made in Sarasota restaurant murder

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL -

Sarasota deputies have tracked down the man who allegedly beat a restaurant manager after not paying a bill.

51-year-old Andrew Tian died a few days later.

20-year-old Juan De Dios Rodriguez has now been charged with manslaughter and is being held at the Sarasota county jail on no bond.

It all stems from a terrible crime at the New Dynasty Chinese Buffet.

On the night of July 14th, Rodriguez and two friends ate then took off without paying.

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said, "[Rodriguez] did not want to pay a $35.31 bill."

51-year-old old restaurant manager, Andrew Tian chased them down. When he approached them, the sheriff's office says Rodriguez punched him in the head and he fell onto the pavement.

Tian died in the hospital a few days later.

More than 40 tips came into crime stoppers and deputies were able to track down the two friends, Fernando Rico and Bryan Lopez.

Through interviews and detective work, deputies identified Rodriguez and arrested him on Tuesday during a traffic stop.

Rodriguez is a Bradenton resident and a gang member with a criminal history.

Related story: 07/15/2013 Sarasota restaurant manager chases men, severely injured

Sheriff Knight said, "We feel comfortable that we have the right person in custody, we have the right person in jail, and somebody will be brought responsible for this death."

Tian's girlfriend, Mary Lou Anderson said, "Regulars loved Andrew. They knew Andrew. Andrew would've paid the bill. They were not Andrew."

Mary Lou Anderson was a regular to restaurant herself, and started dating Tian two years ago.

She said the world not only lost a wonderful man, it lost a prolific artist. Tian was self-taught and dabbled in sketches and photography.

Related story: 07/22/2013 Sarasota restaurant manager dies after beating

Anderson said, "This man took my tomorrows away, and I hope that the moment when they ask how shall he be judged, how shall he be put away? That I get a chance to take his tomorrows away."

Anderson said Tian had a pocket full of cash that was not taken during the crime. She said if they had asked, Tian would've gladly paid the bill.

She says Tian was her soul mate, and because of Rodriguez he's now gone.

Tian leaves behind a son who's a second year pharmaceutical student at the University of Florida.

His funeral will be held this Sunday afternoon at the United Church of Christ.

Follow John Rogers on Twitter at @WFLAJohn

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