TAMPA — Maribel Sanchez-Garza went to Club 301 about once a week, often with her sister, but the women were not heavy drinkers, bar owner Greg Burgos said Sunday evening, hours after Sanchez-Garza was struck and killed by a bullet while leaving the club.
The shooting happened just after 3 a.m. Sunday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies believe the shooter might have been traveling in a sport utility vehicle on U.S. 301 when the fatal shot was fired.
Sanchez-Garza, 49, who Burgos is related to by marriage, died at the scene, the sheriff's office said.
Burgos, who has owned the club six years, described Sanchez-Garza as a quiet, friendly woman who enjoyed dancing. He struggled to comprehend the shooter's actions.
“You don't act like this. You just don't,” he said. “You have a problem with someone, deal with that. But he took someone who was very valuable to her family. They're all great people. I'm like, 'What are you thinking?' This wasn't an attack on one person. She was in a crowd of people. We all feel attacked.”
The shooting prompted the closure of U.S. 301 for several hours while investigators worked the scene. The sheriff's office continued investigating throughout the day Sunday.
Burgos said investigators have access to surveillance footage from the club's 16 security cameras. The club has 16 bouncers inside and a private firm provides armed security outside, he said.
Burgos was about to exit the club when the fatal shot rang out, he said.
“Her sister was standing next to her and one of our security guys,” he said. “It was the end of the night and everyone was walking out. My sister is the head manager, and I was walking out right behind her. Then it all happened, and they rushed us back in to take cover.”