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Police seek parking lot shooter

By Staff | Nov 20, 2014

Police-released composite of suspect

Cape Coral police were still searching Thursday for a suspect and additional information in the shooting death of a T.J. Maxx store manager earlier this week.

At about 8:53 p.m. Tuesday, an officer was responding to two vehicle burglaries in a parking lot at 1502 S. Del Prado Blvd. when multiple gunshots were heard. According to reports, the officer located a man, later identified as Alfred Ernest Griffiths III, lying unconscious outside in front of T.J. Maxx.

Griffiths, 54, of the Cape, had sustained a life-threatening gunshot wound to his head.

Police reported that Griffiths was sitting on a bench when the suspect approached and shot him. It is believed that the suspect then ran to a nearby parked vehicle and fled southbound on Del Prado.

Officers secured the scene and established a perimeter. The CCPD K-9 Unit and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit responded to assist, as well as Cape detectives and the Forensics Unit.

Lee County medics transported Griffiths in critical condition to Lee Memorial Hospital, according to officials. Griffiths was pronounced dead at the hospital before midnight on Tuesday.

The suspect is described as a white man, possibly in his 40s, with light-colored to white hair, and an average to thin build. He was wearing a light or gray hooded sweatshirt or jacket, possibly a zipper front, light-colored jean pants, white sneakers, light-framed glasses and a light or white baseball cap.

The vehicle is described as an older model, two- to four-door sedan that is light in color, possibly gold or silver in color, maybe a Chevrolet Cavalier. The gun was a small silver or light-colored handgun.

CCPD spokesman Sgt. Dana Coston reported that the case is actively being investigated.

“Detectives are still aggressively working all leads,” he said Thursday.

As part of the investigation, detectives wish to speak with everyone who was at or in the area of T.J. Maxx, Planet Fitness and Ariani Ristorante Italiano on Tuesday between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

“We know there are customers who were in and around the store at the time of the shooting that we have not made contact with yet. Many left prior to police arrival,” Sgt. Bennett Walker said Wednesday in a statement. “People may have information that is helpful to the investigation and not realize it.”

Anyone with information on the fatal shooting or the identity of the suspect is asked to contact Detective Alisha McDonald at (239) 574-0677 or amcdonal@capecoral.net. People can also submit an anonymous tip at: www.capecops/tips or text CCPD, plus their message, to CRIMES (274637).

The Cape Coral Police Department can be reached at (239) 574-3223.

Tipsters can also call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at (800) 780-TIPS (8477).

Griffiths’ family could not be reached for comment on the incident.

T.J. Maxx officials reported Wednesday that Griffiths was a long-term associate.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic act of violence that occurred last evening outside of our Cape Coral store, which resulted in the death of our store manager, Mr. Griffiths,” spokeswoman Doreen Thompson said in a statement. “In his 14 years with T.J. Maxx, he made many contributions to our organization professionally, as well as being involved philanthropically with the local community.”

“We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and all of our associates who have worked by his side,” she continued. “We are appreciative of the support of law enforcement and are fully cooperating with them regarding this situation.”

Thompson declined to comment further as it is an active police matter.

This is the fourth homicide reported in Cape Coral since the start of the year.

On Aug. 2, police responded to a homeless camp near the intersection of Northeast Fourth Street and Northeast First Avenue. Thomas J. Bergstrom, 51, was found stabbed to death inside his structure. Yoel Munoz, 13, of 502 N.E. Van Loon Lane, was detained and eventually indicted on first-degree murder.

On May 24, police responded to 407 S.E. 12th Court for a loud party that turned into a physical altercation and shots being fired. One shooting victim, Mathew Pech, 27, of St. James City, died on scene. Christopher Curtis Manley, 20, of 1102 S.W. 16th Terrace, was later arrested and charged.

On Jan. 4, police responded to shots fired outside of an apartment at 4021 S.E. 12th Ave. They found Pierre Jacques Dervil, 34, of 4021 S.E. 12th Ave., Apt. 6, lying in the parking lot with a gunshot wound to the head. A woman said she heard some shots and someone yell, then her boyfriend went outside.