Shooting at Tampa hookah bar leaves one dead, three injured

Manuel Ortiz, Jr., 29, was mourned on a friend's Facebook page after the shooting early Saturday.
Manuel Ortiz, Jr., 29, was mourned on a friend's Facebook page after the shooting early Saturday.
Published February 20 2016
Updated February 21 2016

TAMPA — One man died and three others were injured early Saturday after a shooting at a hookah bar.

At 4:15 a.m., Hillsborough County deputies responded to reports of a shooting at the Smokin' Bull Hookah Bar at 2810 E Bearss Ave., deputies said. Investigators believe the violence started with a fight inside the bar that moved outside. A man involved in the fight went to his car, got a gun and fired an estimated 10 shots toward the bar, Col. Donna Lusczynski said.

Although deputies have yet to release the victim's name, friends and family have identified him as Manuel Ortiz Jr., 29, of Tampa. There was an outpouring of grief on social media, and the family has set up a GoFundMe page to cover funeral costs.

"He has a big heart . . . and for somebody just to snuff him out like that because of an argument," said friend Ruben T. Aguayo, "there's other ways of going around things. Nobody deserves to die like that."

When deputies arrived at the scene, they found a large crowd and four people shot. The victims were taken to hospitals. Three of them, ages 20, 22 and 33, had non life-threatening injuries, Lusczynski said.

Investigators were interviewing the victims and were obtaining surveillance video from the strip mall where the bar is located. As of Saturday afternoon, no suspects had been identified.

Aguayo, 30, was struggling to make it through his shift at Tampa International Airport on Saturday, distraught over Ortiz's death.

He said Ortiz had a son who had just turned a month old Friday.

"He was trying to make a better life for his child and the mother of his child," Aguayo said. "(He was) trying to do everything the right way."

Ortiz had past run-ins with law enforcement. He spent about a year in prison in 2012 for having a concealed weapon and has a five-point crown Latin King tattoo, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.

On Facebook, a friend posted "A True Kings Crown has Fallen," with Ortiz's photo.

Friends affectionately called him "Macho," a nickname given to him by his father, Aguayo said.

Aguayo and Ortiz met working security in Tampa bars. He said it was unlike Ortiz to get into an argument.

"He had a heart of gold," he said. "He would do anything for you."

Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn. Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.

Advertisement