A 26-year-old Maryland man died early Tuesday after he was shot in the stomach during an apparent robbery at the house he was visiting in Ybor City, police said. Earl Cleare, a roofer who formerly lived in Tampa, died at 12:45 a.m. at Tampa General Hospital from a gunshot wound in his abdomen.
Residents of the house at 1906 N 25th St. told police that two men burst in and shot Cleare in the stomach when he told the robbers he had nothing to give them.
Police homicide Sgt. Harold Sells said detectives are investigating Monday night's burglary and shooting. He said they are continuing to question witnesses, including the man who lived in the house where the incident occurred.
Otis Neal, 63, who rents the house from his son, said he and Cleare were sitting in the living room about 8:20 p.m. when two men, one with a .22-caliber rifle, knocked down the screen door.
"The door just busted open, and the man says, "I'm going to jack you up. Give me what you got,' " Neal said Tuesday. "(Cleare) said, "Please don't kill me. I don't got nothing.' But the man shot him anyway."
Neal said the burglars told him to get against the wall or he also would be shot. The burglars took Neal's car keys, pocketknife and wrist watch, he said.
The two men left the house and got into a waiting car that was carrying two other men. The car was last seen heading south on 25th Street, witnesses told police.
Neal said a friend who was sleeping in the back room of the house when the shooting occurred called an ambulance and police. Cleare was taken to Tampa General Hospital where initially he was listed in stable condition. But his condition worsened, and he died.
Cleare was in Tampa visiting Neal's son for a two-week vacation, Neal said. He was going to help put a new roof on the house starting Tuesday morning, Neal said.
Twenty minutes before the shooting, Cleare called his mother, who lives in Tampa, Neal said. The woman's name was not available.
Neal said his wife and their son were not there when the incident occurred.