Mother of Fort Myers man killed in Pasco County shooting speaks

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
carl branch
Cindy Dukes with her son, Carl Branch

A Fort Myers man was shot and killed Saturday in Pasco County, according to Pasco sheriff’s detectives.

Deputies identified the victim as 32-year-old Carl Branch. His mother, Cindy Dukes, spoke exclusively to WINK News on Sunday and said she wants answers about her son’s murder.

“That was my heart, my heartbeat. I just feel like my life, I don’t know…” Dukes said. She describes her oldest son as funny and loving. Being born the day after Christmas, Branch was her “ultimate Christmas present.”

The shooting happened at Samuel Pasco Athletic Park in the parking lot while a children’s football tournament was going on.

“I’m hurt I’m hurt. My heart is broken,” said Dukes.

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

Pasco County deputies are still searching for the person who pulled the trigger at the Zephyrhills sports complex. Detectives say the suspects are believed to have been in a white, four-door Nissan sedan that has damage to the driver’s side front quarter panel, which is painted a tan primer color. The car held an unknown number of men wearing dark clothing and they may be from the Fort Myers area.

Authorities believe Branch was the intended target yet the motive is still unknown. “He was just trying to be family-oriented and just do for his kids and do the right thing and that’s what he was doing. No trouble. He didn’t want no trouble,” Dukes said.

She admits that her son did have a past, including drugs and an attempted second-degree murder charge, which was eventually dropped.

Branch got out of jail earlier this year after a drug conviction but, Duke says, ever since, her son seemed to have turned over a new leaf. “He had gotten himself together. Doing the right thing,” she said. “A lot of good things he had coming along and he was looking forward to it. He was looking forward to living life and now I just got cut short.”

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477). Dukes hopes someone knows something so that her family can gt one step closer to justice. “I wouldn’t wish this on nobody. I wouldn’t wish this on nobody,” said Dukes.

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