BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a Florida man suspected in the killing his wife, a pastor and a neighbor, a sheriff’s official said Saturday.
Andres “Andy” Avalos, 33, was taken into custody without incident at a mobile home park in the Bradenton area of Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said. Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow told The Associated Press in the email confirming the arrest that Avalos has been charged with murder and was being held without bond.
Authorities said Avalos is a suspect in a spree that began Thursday with the killings of his 33-year-old wife Amber Avalos, who was a Sunday school aide, and 45-year-old neighbor Denise Potter, at the Avaloses’ home in Bradenton. Sheriff’s officials said the suspect then went to Bayshore Baptist Church, where Amber Avalos worked, and fatally shot 31-year-old pastor James “Tripp” Battle.
The Bradenton Herald initially reported the arrest Saturday and said it occurred about two blocks from the church. Bristow did not immediately disclose any further information.
Church members had said the pastor’s wife was at the church at time of the shooting, and she told police about the other two victims. It wasn’t clear how she knew Amber Avalos and Denise Potter had been slain at the Avaloses’ home in Bradenton about 10 miles from the church.
Sheriff’s deputies said Avalos’s vehicle was found abandoned Friday in a store parking lot near Bradenton, 45 miles south of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Avalos has a criminal record, including DUI arrests, traffic offenses and a fight during which he was shot in the arm. Criminal records also show that he was arrested on a weapon possession charge but was not prosecuted.
The Avaloses have six children, ages 3 to 14. They were at school when officers found out about the shootings and the schools were put on lockdown for a time for fear that Avalos would attempt to pick them up. Deputies said the children were since put in the custody of a relative.
Bristow had no further information Saturday. He had said earlier in the week that investigators didn’t know “exactly what transpired.”