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Missing 12-year-old boy is found drowned

Lorenzo Brown left his sneakers and bicycle along the Gulfport Beach shore Saturday, swam past the buoys and told his buddy he just wanted to swim another 10 minutes.

Brown's shoes and bicycle made it back to his St. Petersburg home, but Lorenzo didn't.

Late Monday afternoon, police pulled the 12-year-old's body from the water after passers-by saw him floating about 15 yards from shore.

"He was a normal kid. He's never been in any trouble," said his mother, Joanne Brown.

Lorenzo Brown of 1748 38th St. S had been missing since Saturday, but the air and water search did not begin until almost two days later because of a delay in police getting details about where Lorenzo Brown was last seen.

"It's a matter of minutes when you get somebody going under," said Gulfport police Lt. Larry Tosi. The lapse in time can make a difference in rescue efforts, he said.

Brown's parents, Joanne and Alonzo Brown, said they were first told of their son's disappearance about 8 p.m. Saturday when a friend returned Lorenzo's bike and shoes.

According to St. Petersburg police, the Browns did not tell officers of Lorenzo's disappearance from the beach until Sunday.

The first report to police mentioned that he had gone to his grandmother's house, had possibly gone to a swimming pool and that he had run away before but there were no problems now.

"There was no indication of foul play or drowning," said Officer Lilla Davis-Mays, a spokeswoman for the St. Petersburg Police Department. The department issued an advisory to other agencies to look out for the missing child, she said.

Joanne Brown filed a runaway report with St. Petersburg police about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Davis said.

Nearly six hours later, the Browns went to Gulfport police with a picture of Lorenzo Brown and said he may have drowned on the beach.

Tosi said the urgency of the matter was not conveyed.

Joanne Brown said she decided to go back to St. Petersburg police because she got no cooperation from Gulfport.

The Browns wanted to update the runaway report about 10 p.m. Sunday, adding that witnesses saw Lorenzo Brown on the beach and that he said he'd swim back to shore and get something to eat at a cookout later.

That's when St. Petersburg police notified Gulfport police, who began the search Monday morning. Lorenzo Brown's body was found about 5:20 p.m.

Tosi said they are checking out a tip that a man was seen dunking Lorenzo Brown.

It is unclear why Lorenzo Brown ended up at the beach, but Joanne Brown said that her son could swim.

This is the second death within a week for Joanne Brown. Her mother's funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

She described her son as a normal adolescent, more reserved around his parents than he was around his friends.

The sixth-grader at Osceola Middle School played tuba in the band, ran track and played basketball.

If he stayed out past dark, it was usually because he was on a lighted basketball court shooting hoops.

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