MULBERRY, Fla. (WFLA) — The man who was shot and killed in an attempted murder-suicide in Polk County over the weekend was a part-time minister who held religious services at his home, according to the county sheriff.
Sheriff Grady Judd provided new details Tuesday into what led up to the shooting that left one man dead and sent the alleged shooter to the hospital.
The shooting happened just after 9 p.m. Sunday in the Bailey Road area of Mulberry. The sheriff’s office initially called it a murder-suicide but later said the alleged gunman survived the attempted suicide and was taken to the hospital.
The victim was identified Tuesday as 38-year-old Cipriano Jimenez Toribio. He was a roofer and a part-time minister who held religious services at his home, officials said.
“He was a really hard working guy. He changed his life. He was trying to build a church. He was a loving person, caring,” said Sandra Ortega, who said Toribio was like a father to her.
His daughter said Toribio was always there for her and he was kind.
She last exchanged messages with him on Sunday night.
“He told me he was going to go to Walmart and then the last words I have for him were ‘bye and I love you,'” she said.
The accused shooter has not officially been charged since he’s still in the hospital and not expected to survive, but was identified by Sheriff Judd as 27-year-old Edward Flores.
Flores had been dealing with drug problems and was staying with his mother, who owns the home where the victim lived, a spokesperson for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
According to the sheriff, Flores attended religious services that the victim held. Toribio had tried to help Flores with his drug problems, Judd said.
“He has repeatedly tried to help the suspect and has prayed with him in regards to the suspect’s drug problem,” Sheriff Judd said.
Deputies said a witness told them he and Toribio returned home Sunday night after a trip to the store to find all of the circuit breakers shut off in the victim’s home. According to the sheriff’s office, Flores then appeared with his gun drawn, ordered them into the backyard and questioned the two where they had been.
Sheriff Judd said Flores shot Toribio twice then ran away. Toribio was pronounced dead at the scene.
Responding deputies said they found Flores about half a mile away from the scene an hour after the shooting. He was unconscious with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the sheriff’s office said. He remains in the hospital on life support as of Tuesday afternoon.
According to Judd, Flores’ mother told deputies her son had been drinking and appeared to be high when he left home just before the shooting.
“Witnesses tell us that the suspect becomes paranoid when he’s using drugs. Our witnesses tell us he was very paranoid that night,” said Sheriff Judd.