Teen is shot dead days before 17th birthday

By Times Staff Writer
Published December 26, 2007


A Bartow teen attending a sweet 16 party was shot to death Sunday night while parking his car, the Bartow Police Department said.

As of Monday night, police had not identified a suspect or found a motive for the crime, Detective Greg Rhoden said.

Armando Cortez, 16, a student at Lake Region High School in Eagle Lake who would have celebrated his 17th birthday Tuesday, was shot five times about 11:30 p.m. Sunday in the lot behind Union Academy Magnet School, where he was parking his car before going into the party at the Carver Recreational Center, Bartow police said. He died later that evening at Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

A group of 10 people possibly affiliated with a gang may have attacked Cortez because they thought he was a member of a rival gang, said Cortez's brother, Emanual Cortez.