WINTER HAVEN – Winter Haven Detectives are investigating the death of a 24 year-old Auburndale man after an altercation in a parking lot landed him in the hospital where he later died.
On 4-8-16 at approximately 6:30 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was received from a patron of Floridino’s restaurant (1919 8th St., NW, Winter Haven) who indicated he saw someone lying on the ground with a group of people around him. The initial call was answered by the Winter Haven Fire Department and Polk County EMS as a medical call.
Winter Haven officers arrived and determined that the man on the ground, 24 year-old Steven Bradley Smith (116 Lighter Log Lane, Auburndale) was unresponsive and EMS personnel were performing CPR. Ultimately, Smith was transported to Winter Haven Hospital and then transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa where he died.
Smith had been at the restaurant with co-workers 25 year-old Sherrick Forrester, 24 year-old Ryan Donley and 27 year-old Omar Marrero. The four work together at the Aldi Distribution Center and were there following their shift. As the four talked, Marrero and Smith had a disagreement regarding work, but witnesses state the argument was not heated.
Forrester and Donley walked out, with Marrero and Smith following behind. At some point there was a physical altercation between Marrero and Smith, although there reportedly was no yelling nor did anyone see the altercation. Donley and Forrester were standing at their vehicles when they turned to see Smith lying on the ground. As Forrester and Donley rushed over to see what was going on, Marrero got into his vehicle and left.
Detectives were able to locate Marrero and he initially told Detectives that he punched Smith in self-defense after Smith slapped his hand away. Marrerro indicated that he reached out in a non-aggressive manner in an attempt to make amends.
At this time, there are no witnesses to the actual altercation; therefore additional interviews are being conducted. The investigation continues and further updates will be given after the autopsy is conducted (scheduled for today in Hillsborough County) and further interviews are completed.
Anyone who was in the area of Floridino’s Friday night (April 8) and possibly saw anything unusual occur is asked to call Sgt. Garrett Boyd at 863-401-2256.