1. News

Authorities investigating triple murder in Manatee County

Amber Avalos and Andres “Andy” Avalos, both 33, dance in a photo from 2009. Manatee County sheriff’s deputies have obtained an arrest warrant for Andres Avalos, suspected of murdering the pastor of a Baptist church, his wife and another woman in Bradenton.
Published Dec. 5, 2014

UPDATE: (Friday, 9:17 a.m.) A Manatee sheriff's spokesman confirmed that authorities found the vehicle Andres "Andy" Avalos was last seen driving in the parking lot of a Walmart on Thursday night. The SUV was located at 6225 State Road 64. Avalos is still at large.

BRADENTON — Manatee sheriff's deputies are searching for a man they consider armed and dangerous who they believe killed his wife, pastor and another woman Thursday.

Authorities have obtained an arrest warrant for Andres "Andy" Avalos, 33, for allegedly shooting to death Bayshore Baptist Church pastor James "Tripp" Battle, 31, about 1 p.m. Thursday, Sheriff's Office spokesman Dave Bristow said.

Investigators believe Avalos first killed his wife, Amber Avalos, 33, who was a church employee, and neighbor Denise Potter, 46, at the couple's residence at 1200 67th St. NW in Bradenton. Then, Bristow said, Avalos went to the church at 6502 14th St. W and shot Battle.

Deputies were called to the church when a witness, who only minutes before had spoken with Avalos, heard a gunshot.

Once at Bayshore, Bristow said investigators learned of a possibly related murder scene across town, where they found the women's bodies. Bristow said the medical examiner will determine how the women died.

Avalos was last seen near the church driving a 2003 gold Chevrolet Suburban with the tag number 484VTZ.

"Certainly we believe he has killed three people," Bristow said. "So suffice to say he is armed and extremely dangerous."

He said investigators have several leads on a motive but are not disclosing them at this time.

Amber Avalos worked as the church's nursery/children's director, according to the church's website.

Manatee County records show Andres and Amber Avalos were married in August 2000. The church website says the Avaloses have "six amazing children."

Bristow said the children were not home when their mother was killed and they all have been located and are safe.

Avalos served time in Hills­borough County for multiple DUI convictions between 2004 and 2012. In 2003, Avalos was involved in a physical altercation in which he was shot in the arm. Avalos jumped out of some bushes at a home in Bradenton, put a gun to another's man's head and forced him inside, the Bradenton Herald reported in 2003. The men argued and the gun went off during a struggle.

Andres Avalos' father, Andy Avalos Sr., has been written about several times in the Herald for his work as a prominent mentor for troubled young Latinos.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.


  1. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  2. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  3. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
  4. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  5. Terry Spencer carries his daughter, Trinity, through high water on 59th Street near Stewart Road in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, as heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda caused street flooding on the island. JENNIFER REYNOLDS  |  AP
    Although the amount of predicted rainfall is massive — forecasters say some places could see 40 inches or more this week.
  6. This April 2001 photo, which appeared in a newsletter from the West Point Grey Academy, shows a costumed Justin Trudeau, his face and hands darkened by makeup, attending an "Arabian Nights" gala. The academy is a private school in Vancouver, B.C., where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. (West Point Grey Academy/The Canadian Press via AP)
    A few Southern politicians responded to similar scandals recently with denials, apologies, and promises. Most of them have managed to stay in office.
  7. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
  8. This April 14, 2019 file photo shows a western meadowlark in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo. According to a study released on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, North America’s skies are lonelier and quieter as nearly 3 billion fewer wild birds soar in the air than in 1970. Some of the most common and recognizable birds are taking the biggest hits, even though they are not near disappearing yet. The population of eastern meadowlarks has shriveled by more than three-quarters with the western meadowlark nearly as hard hit. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) DAVID ZALUBOWSKI  |  AP
    “People need to pay attention to the birds around them because they are slowly disappearing,” said the study’s lead author.
  9. Michael Robert-Jose Harbaugh has pleaded guilty in the 2017 slaying of Safety Harbor neighbor David Sommer, a former reporter. Harbaugh also pleaded guilty to a charge he tried to have a witness in the case killed. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    Journalist David Sommer was killed in 2017. Michael Harbaugh, 42, agreed to serve 30 years in prison for his crimes.
  10. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.