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Family says slain man was deeply religious, spreading God's word

TAMPA — Designing artwork for booklets about the Seventh-day Adventist Church brought Carlos Ibanez closer to God.

A skilled engineer and devoted family man, Ibanez hungered to share the teachings of Jesus, relatives say.

But when his erratic approach frightened a 72-year-old neighbor Sunday night, that religious devotion turned fatal.

Still, family members say they do not hate the man who took Ibanez's life, even as they prepare to bury him.

They say Ibanez would have practiced compassion.

"He would put his arm around the man and forgive him," said Marius Mapp, Ibanez's brother-in-law. "The statement that Carlos would say to this gentleman is that Jesus does love him."

Marcos Antonio Trujillo called 911 from his North Tampa apartment complex shortly after 9:30 p.m. Sunday to say he'd shot an intruder.

When Tampa police arrived at the scene, Ibanez had already bled to death on a ramp near the building's outdoor stairwell. A witness who ran to him immediately after the shooting said he died instantly.

Tampa police will not release details about the incident until the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office determines whether to file charges against Trujillo. He may be protected by Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows people to meet force with force when they feel threatened.

In the moments prior to his death, a woman described Ibanez as manic, hollering loudly and cart wheeling through the parking lot. Neighbors heard him pounding on windows and doors.

Ibanez is typically reserved, Mapp said. He does not understand the behavior that night.

"Not everything can be explained. I can't call it a spiritual high because even with a spiritual high you still act accordingly," he said. "This time was a little different for some reason. He must have been sharing what was in his heart to whoever would listen."

Mapp said Ibanez had spent the afternoon before his death at his Compton Place at Tampa Palms apartment with members of a religious brotherhood.

Alvaro Ibanez, Carlos' father, said his son had recently married and taken temporary residence there while getting settled in Tampa with his wife.

Carlos Ibanez came to the United States in 1981 at age 9 and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in engineering, family said.

He worked at Tampa's HT/DcR Engineering Inc. and operated his own graphic design business after hours. He often traveled to his native Colombia for work and six years ago met a woman there named Mariana.

She remained in Colombia while he worked in the United States, but Alvaro Ibanez said his son traveled around the South American country securing all of the documents necessary to bring her here.

In April, Mariana arrived in Florida with the couple's two young daughters — Lorena, 5, and Diana-Carolina, 2. They wed later that month.

"We were all anxiously praying that they would get approval from the embassy in Colombia, and the day they did there was a big rejoicing over here," Mapp said.

He said the family will now watch over Mariana and the children. They still hope to obtain a visa so she can remain in the country.

Though family and co-workers said much is unclear about the circumstances of his death, they're confident Ibanez could not have intended to break into Trujillo's apartment.

"We're hoping very much that the facts will come together and you'll find out it had nothing to do with him being an intruder of any kind," said Guy Morris, president of HT/DcR Engineering. "No one in this office believes Carlos was breaking in anyone's house."

Alvaro Ibanez doesn't believe it either.

"It's very hard to understand how someone can come out of their house and kill someone who just wanted to help him," he said.

Times staff writer Steven Overly can be reached at soverly@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3435.

Family says slain man was deeply religious, spreading God's word 07/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 11:26pm]
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