CLEARWATER — Two men sought in the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old Clearwater woman riding her bicycle Sunday night may have tried to rob her and could be the same men who robbed a man in Dunedin less than an hour earlier, authorities said.
Zorana Lebedic, of 1799 N Highland Ave., Apt. 60, was killed just after 11 p.m. at Palmetto Street and Fairburn Avenue in a residential neighborhood just west of N Betty Lane. It happened a block east of Clearwater Intermediate School.
Clearwater police said they believe Lebedic, who was Macedonian, was returning home after leaving a Scientology class in downtown Clearwater.
Several neighbors who lived in her building at the Highland Avenue condominium complex said they did not know her.
About 45 minutes before Lebedic was shot, at about 10:20 p.m., two men robbed a 34-year-old man walking on Beltrees Street near Louden Avenue in Dunedin, which is about 2 1/2 miles north of the Clearwater shooting.
In that case, one of the men pointed a dark-colored handgun at the man and took his cell phone, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. The two men then drove off in a tan or beige sedan, possibly with four doors.
The man who was robbed, who has not been identified because he is a witness, noted the car had a "loud exhaust" and looked like an unmarked police car. Authorities hope someone will be familiar with that vehicle.
"Somebody's got to recognize it, I would hope," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Tom Nestor.
The car in that robbery matches the description of a vehicle seen at the scene of Lebedic's slaying, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts.
The victim in the Dunedin robbery said the men were black and wore dark clothing and handkerchiefs over their faces, the Sheriff's Office said. Both had guns. One suspect is about 6 feet tall, 170 to 180 pounds and had short, dark hair. The second is described as under 6 feet tall with a slim to medium build and short, dark hair.
It's unclear if the men took anything from Lebedic before or after shooting her. Clearwater police found her bicycle and a backpack near her body after the shooting.
"We still don't know if something was taken off her person or from her belongings," Watts said.
Nestor said the sheriff's office and Clearwater police made the connection between the two crimes through a common investigative technique: communication.
"The robbery and homicide units of all the agencies, they work closely together. They have monthly robbery unit meetings with all the detectives from the area and they go over their cases and compare notes," Nestor said. "So I'm sure in this case there was some talk back and forth between the agencies: 'Have you had anything similar? Does this sound familiar to you?' "
Rita Farlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.