A Florida father of six killed his wife and her friend at his home and then went to church and killed his pastor in a drug-fueled rampage, according to police. Cops in Bradenton, south of Tampa, have launched a manhunt for Andres “Andy” Avalos, 33, the man allegedly behind the December 4 shootings.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Avalos Was Seen in the Pastor’s Office Before the Shooting
WFTS reports that police went to the Bayshore Baptist Church at 1:20 p.m. to find one person dead. That man was named as Pastor James “Tripp” Battle, 31, reports Tampa Bay Online. Battle lived in the church. Bay News 9 reports that a witness saw Battle and Avalos talking in the pastor’s office. Pastor Battle was found dead in the church’s courtyard.
Later cops learned of more victims at a nearby house that they believed were related. One of those victims was named as Amber Avalos, Andres Avalos’ wife. The other woman was a family friend named Denise Potter, 46.
Cops are only searching for Andres Avalos in the shooting. Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow told the Bradenton Herald, “We believe this all stemmed from a domestic situation. This wasn’t random.” You can watch Bristow talk about the case above. WFLA reports that a $15,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to Avalos’ arrest.
2. His Wife Worked at the Church
According to the website of the Bayshore Baptist Church, Amber Avalos worked in the church’s nursery. Her title was Children’s Director. A parishioner at the church, E.W. Carpenter, told the Bradenton Herald that Amber Avalos “was a quiet person who did a great job with our children.” Another member, Linda Stewart, said that Amber Avalos was “warm and lovely.” Stewart added that Andres Avalos attended the church a few times but wasn’t a regular. Amber’s profile on the Bayshore website reads:
Andres Avalos’ father is also a pastor in Bradenton, according to the Bayshore Baptist website.
3. Avalos’ 6 Children Weren’t Hurt
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, all of Avalos’ children were accounted for. They are staying with a relative. TBO reports that Andres and Amber Avalos have six children together.
A neighbor of the family told the Associated Press that the previous owner of the Avalos’ house was murdered in 2008.
4. Cops Say Avalos Was High on Drugs
Police believe Avalos was under the influence of drugs during the shootings. The Tampa Tribune reports that as the search for Andres Avalos goes on, his car was found at a Walmart parking lot, 10 miles from the Bayshore Baptist Church. After that find, Manatee County Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow told the media that officers believe Avalos is alive. He is believed to be armed and dangerous.
Bay News 9 reports that Avalos had six previous arrests for DUI.
5. James Battle Was a ‘Beloved’ Local Pastor
The Bradenton Herald reports that James “Tripp” Battle was a “beloved” local pastor. A parishioner told the paper, “He was 31 years old and would give you the shirt off his back.” Battle was a Bradenton native and attended Bayshore High School. He was the head pastor at Bayshore since 2013. He leaves behind a wife, Joy, and two children.