Tyler Hopkins has been identified as the Thursday night victim who was shot and killed on Northeast First Avenue near Copeland Park in Crystal River, according to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.
No other persons were injured during this isolated incident. The motive for this incident is unclear.
"It's too early in the investigation to say what led up to it," Major Justin Ferrara said.
Late Thursday night, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Brittney Carman said it was discovered the shooting occurred in daylight in Hopkins’ front yard. It was Hopkins’ girlfriend who drove him to Bayfront Seven Rivers Regional Hospital. At the hospital, the 26-year-old Hopkins of Hernando was pronounced deceased.
Initially, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday to Northeast First Street in Crystal River, regarding the discharge of a possible firearm.
Witnesses in the area told the deputy they heard gunshots in the area of Copeland Park and noticed an African American male in a red shirt running from the location, Carman wrote in news release. The suspect remains at large, Carman said. Additional suspect information is developing. "Investigators are following up on all leads (and the department) is narrowing in on the ID of the suspect," Major Ferrara said.
“At this time, Major Crime detectives are working diligently to make sure we turn over every stone,” Sheriff Mike Prendergast said in a news release. “We will unwaveringly continue our investigation into the unfortunate death of our victim, Tyler Hopkins. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Tyler.”
Pastor Doug Alexander of the New Church Without Walls said he knew Hopkins and his family well.
“I love that family. I love Tyler; I watched him grow up here in church,” he said Friday morning.
Upon hearing the news Thursday night, Pastor Alexander said he reached to the families.
“It was shocking,” he said. “We’re family friends, I know both sides of the family. I know everyone is hurting. I sympathize for that family that they have to deal with this during this time.”
Pastor Alexander called Hopkins “a great young man.”
“He had kids; they had a loving father,” Alexander added. “He loved his kids. That’ll be tough. He was good dad.”
The sheriff’s office investigation is ongoing, according to Carman.
As the deputy began to investigate the vicinity of the area where witnesses heard gunshots, it was discovered that Hopkins was transported by a witness to Bayfront Seven Rivers.
Major Crimes detectives were called out to secure the scene and investigate. The agency issued an alert to residents in the area around 8:04 p.m. advising them to be on the lookout for a black male wearing a red shirt. The alert told residents they should stay inside, locking all doors and windows and to report “any suspicious incidents that occur in this area.”
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