A BRITISH estate agent who was shot dead in Florida was a case of "mistaken identity" after the gunman believed it was the landlady who evicted him, a friend of the victim has told.
Sara Trost, 40, from Southend, Essex, was gunned down as she sat idle in a parked car outside the property in near Fort Lauderdale last Thursday.
The estate agent and property manager was fatally wounded when a tenant who had been evicted from a rental home in Coral Springs opened fire on her, seemingly thinking that she was his landlady.
“Apparently the owner of the house, who was evicting the tenant, also had a white Jeep and was a blonde-haired lady — like Sara — and the guy mistook her. It’s devastating,” Rabbi Shuey Biston, a close friend of Trost and her family, said.
Raymond Reese, 51, of Boca Raton, Florida, was charged with first-degree murder — a crime for which prosecutors can opt to seek the death penalty. He was due to appear in court yesterday.
Trost had been sitting in her vehicle outside an empty property, preparing to show a client around, when she was ambushed by Reese and shot multiple times, the police said.
Police believe the victim was shot dead by a disgruntled former tenant of the home, 51-year-old Raymond Reese, who was arrested later that day.
The alarm was first raised at the three-bedroom property at around 12.30pm on Thursday.
But despite the best efforts of paramedics, the mother of one was pronounced dead at the scene.
“When officers arrived, they discovered a vehicle with one female occupant in the driver's seat suffering from multiple gunshot wounds,” the Coral Springs police department confirmed in a statement.
“Despite immediate medical treatment, the driver succumbed to her injuries on scene and was pronounced dead.”
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Shortly after the incident, Mr Reese was taken into custody as neighbours later claimed that he had been upset after being turfed out of the $515,000 home.
Police have not revealed any further details, but say that no additional suspects are being sought after at this time.
According to The Mail, Trost was a married mother and shared a three-year-old daughter with her American husband, Jason.
Prior to her death, she had been vocal on social media about gun violence – prompted by the deadly 2018 high school shooting in nearby Parkland where 17 people lost their lives.
She wrote on Facebook: “Australia had one incident. One, They FIXED IT. UK had ONE incident. They FIXED it. How?
“With action. Using their brains. It was not difficult for either country to find a workable and successful solution.
“Here in the US we seem to start and stop at 'thoughts and prayers.' Doesn't seem to be working right,” she added.
Police have now confirmed that her death remains under investigation and that the suspect will remain in custody.
No trial date has been set.
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