Deadly shooting stemmed from argument over suspect dating victim’s daughter, Polk County deputies say

Polk County

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) — An early-morning shooting in Polk County left one man dead and another in custody, deputies say.

According to Public Information Officer Brian Bruchey with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the fatal shooting happened just before 6 a.m. Friday in the area of Transport Road and Spruce Road in unincorporated Bartow.

When deputies got to the scene, they say they found a man dead inside a home. The victim’s name is not being released because of Marsy’s Law.

Sheriff Grady Judd says the living conditions inside the home where the victim was found are some of the worst he’s seen.

“There are holes in the floor. There were stacks of garbage in this residence where our victim was shot down in cold blood,” Judd said.

The sheriff says in addition to the trash, deputies found wasp nests inside of the home.

“We had to fight our way in with two different cans of wasp spray. There were wasp nests, live wasp nests all through the living room and the entry area,” he said.

A neighbor says the trailer has been without power and water for at least two years, but people continue to live inside.

Judd says deputies spoke with two witnesses at the home who helped them quickly locate the suspect, who was found in a car leaving the area. The sheriff’s office identified the suspect as 31-year-old Raul De Alejandro Rodriguez from Bartow.

“The responding deputies arrived so quickly that they were able to set-up a tight perimeter and the Aviation Unit easily spotted the suspect trying to get away,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. “He was detained very quickly.”

Based on the investigation so far, deputies say it appears an argument broke out between the two men. At some point during the alleged argument, deputies say De Alejandro Rodriguez shot the victim with a shotgun and left with the weapon.

When deputies found De Alejandro Rodriguez, he had a single shotgun shell in his pocket and another in a bag, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The investigation is ongoing, and homicide detectives and crime scene investigators are working hard to gather evidence and statements,” Sheriff Judd said.

According to Judd, De Alejandro Rodriguez had previously supplied the victim and his daughter with drugs. He also had been reportedly dating and having a sexual relationship with the daughter.

He is now facing charges of:

  • First-degree murder
  • Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
  • Armed burglary with a firearm
  • Tampering with a witness
  • Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • Possession of ammunition by a convicted felon

The sheriff’s office says the 31-year-old has a prior criminal history that includes six felony and eight misdemeanor arrests for charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, drug possessions, hit-and-run, and disorderly conduct.

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