RIVERVIEW, Fla. - On the day that parents by the millions annually bring their kids to 7-Eleven for a free Slurpee, customers of the Bloomingdale Avenue store in Riverview were greeted with a sober reminder of a night employees might rather forget.
Flowers and messages were left at the entrance of the convenience store in honor of 54-year-old Kenneth Redding, a clerk who was brutally stabbed to death early Wednesday morning.
"It's sick. It's just very sick," said Alina Clark, a Riverview resident and regular customer of the Bloomingdale 7-Eleven. "We have children. And if you're going to come in here and do something just cruel and ruthless like this, you just worry for the safety of everybody's well-being," Clark said.
Lawrence Bongiovanni, 20, is accused in the stabbing death, and being the suspect who was seen sneaking around the store on surveillance tape before plunging a knife into Redding multiple times.
Two additional suspects, 25-year-old Russell Beasley and 23-year-old Brandan Green, were taken into custody in Sarasota after deputies were able to follow the location of several stolen lottery tickets that were being cashed in the area.
But after extensive interviews, deputies let them walk out of jail Thursday morning, citing a lack of evidence connecting them to the 7-Eleven murder.
Bongiovanni remains in the Charlotte County Jail after he was arrested for trying to cash stolen lottery tickets, which Hillsborough deputies suspect were stolen from the Riverview 7-Eleven after the clerk was killed. Investigators expect to extradite him back to Hillsborough County within a few days.
Regulars at the store were surprised to hear that two of the three suspects were set free. Sean Burling of Riverview said when he heard that the two men released were tied to the stolen lottery tickets, he was confused why they weren't kept behind bars.
"That's very disheartening with our legal system," Burling said.
Several customers said they remembered Redding as a friendly employee who often talked to customers.
"We thought it was a tragedy that somebody would come in and stab an older man like that," Burling said. "Everybody cared for him. Our whole family did."