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Man slain in home invasion

GIBSONTON — Guillermo Serpa-Morales moved from Peru to Florida seven years ago, seeking a better life for himself and his three children. He worked factory and construction jobs and sent money back to his family.

But early Saturday, he was shot to death in a home invasion robbery.

"It was only for money," his sister Laura Aurea Bradley, 52, said. The thieves, she said, took off with about $500.

It all started just after midnight, when Serpa-Morales, 32, was sitting on the concrete stoop of a house in the 7000 block of Nundy Avenue in Gibsonton. His brother, Luis Serpa-Morales, 48, and a friend, Juan Cortez-Garcia, 34, were with him, smoking cigarettes.

Three hooded men ran up the sidewalk, carrying two guns and a metal pipe. Luis Serpa-Morales said they hit his brother and friend with the gun. Then they pushed him to the ground and started punching and kicking him, he said. They demanded money.

Cortez-Garcia ran into the house, but Homero Mendiola, 17, smashed the front window's glass and followed. The brothers ran next door but the men followed, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.

That's when, deputies say, the men demanded money and hit Guadalupe Govea. Two of the men — Richard L. McCormick, 18, and the unidentified third man — fired shots, deputies reported. The bullets hit Salvadore Mateo-Victorano, 38, and Guillermo Serpa-Morales.

A witness said he heard McCormick say he thought he might have killed someone.

Serpa-Morales was declared dead at the scene. Mateo-Victorano was taken to Tampa General Hospital with injuries that weren't life-threatening. He was released Saturday, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Deputies arrested McCormick of Gibsonton and took him to the Orient Road Jail, where he remained Saturday without bail. Mendiola was arrested and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. Both of them were charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, robbery and aggravated assault. A decision on whether Mendiola will be charged as a juvenile or adult rests with the State Attorney's Office.

McCormick has a history of arrests as a juvenile and an adult, state records show. In February, he was charged with burglary and vehicle theft, but he was given pretrial diversion. Mendiola has been charged in the past with misdemeanor theft and domestic battery.

Deputies are still looking for the third man involved in the robbery and shooting.

Saturday afternoon, family of Serpa-Morales gathered at the house as several men covered the broken window with plywood. Bradley cried as she spoke of her brother.

"He's a very nice guy, very friendly," she said.

Man slain in home invasion 08/09/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 2:13pm]
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