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Grand jury indicts 4 men for first-degree murder in 2019 Bradenton homicide

All had been previously charged with second-degree murder, the sheriff's office said.
Credit: Manatee County Sheriff's Office
Amando Zeppi (R), James Brewer (2R), Michael Hepner (2L) and Coty Paulk (L) were indicted for 1st-degree murder in the death of Mohammed Hamed in 2019.

BRADENTON, Fla. — A grand jury has upped the charges against four men accused of killing a man during an armed robbery of a Bradenton vape shop in 2019. 

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office says Amado Zeppi, James Brewer, Michael Hepner and Coty Paulk have all been indicted for first-degree murder in the death of Mohammed Hamed. 

All four were previously charged with second-degree murder, the sheriff's office said. 

According to the sheriff's office, 23-year-old Mohammed Hamed was shot and killed during a robbery at the Green Galaxy Smoke and Vape Shop in Bradenton on Sept. 17, 2019.

Previous reporting of the case shows 21-year-old Amado Zeppi was the first arrested in connection to Hamed's murder, on Sept. 19, 2019. The sheriff's office says 21-year-old James Brewer and 22-year-old Michael Hepner were arrested on Sept. 20, 2019.

Coty Paulk was arrested on May 4, 2020.

According to a previous release, the sheriff's office said Brewer went inside the smoke shop to try to distract the owner. Then, investigators say Zeppi and a man later identified as Paulk came into the store, armed, with their faces covered. After they came inside, investigators say Brewer left the store and went into a car driven by Hepner outside. 

The sheriff's office said Hamed was ordered to the back of the store and forced to open a safe. Investigators say Zeppi and Paulk then filled a bag with store items, and Paulk left the store. 

According to the sheriff's office, Zeppi continued to point his gun at Hamed and hit him with it "unprovoked." Investigators say the gun fired and hit Hamed, killing him. 

All four men then left inside the car driven by Hepner, investigators said.

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