COLLIER COUNTY — A Collier County inmate was arguing with a Golden Gate homicide victim shortly before he was killed, according to court records obtained this week by the Daily News. The two apparently had been in a dispute over a woman.
Ernest "Ernie" Torres Jr., 25, died Aug. 4 after shots were fired through his bedroom window at the house he shared with his parents at 2248 54th Terrace S.W.
While detectives were on scene investigating, a neighbor named Abraham "Abe" Eckman, 23, contacted them to give a statement, court records show. After waiving his Miranda Rights, Eckman said he and Torres had been in verbal altercations over the woman, who is the mother of Eckman's child and at the time was in a relationship with Torres, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Torres' father also told investigators that Eckman had threatened his son, reports said.
When detectives asked Eckman if he had any weapons, he said he had several rifles he had recently pawned and a shotgun he kept in a safe at his house. He said he had fired the guns "within the past few days," according to the affidavit.
Acting on a search warrant, deputies found a 12-gauge pump-style shotgun, a 22-caliber bolt action rifle and ammunition at Eckman's house at 5400 23rd Court S.W. The shotgun was taken into custody.
Because of a felony drug conviction from 2006, Eckman is not allowed to own weapons. He was arrested Aug. 6 on a warrant for possession of a firearm by a delinquent.
He is being held at the Naples Jail Center on a $250,000 bond.
Eckman's arrest came on a Monday two days after Torres' death. On that Wednesday, investigator Capt. Chris Roberts told reporters the Sheriff's Office had zeroed in on a "person of interest" in the homicide and said that person was in jail locally.
This week, an agency spokeswoman said detectives had not named any formal suspects and would not say if Eckman was the so-called person of interest.
"Because this is an open, ongoing investigation, we cannot confirm or deny the identity of anyone with involvement," spokeswoman Kristi Lester said.
In a brief jailhouse interview, Eckman said he didn't want to say anything about the Ernest Torres case.
"Nothing at all," he said, before ending the visitation.
The mother of Eckman's child could not be reached for comment.
At the Torres' home Friday, a piece of wood still was boarded to the front bedroom window and tin foil covered panes of glass on the front door. Torres' father said he did not want to talk.