MIAMI GARDENS (CBS4)– The five suspects charged and arrested in connection with the murder of a Brinks guard Sunday during an ambush robbery outside of Calder Casino and Race Course in Miami Gardens appeared in court Tuesday.
The FBI said all of the arrests were made by the South Florida Violent Crimes Task Force. Those taken into custody were Reginald Mitchell, 26, of Miami Gardens, Byron Kyler, 23, of Miami, Vladimir Louissant, 33, of Pembroke Pines,Victoria Barkley (Mitchell’s girlfriend), 26, of Miami Gardens, and Uri Ammar, 26, of Hollywood.
The robbery occurred late Sunday afternoon and ended the life of 26-year-old Alvaro Lopez-Ramos, whose family spoke to CBS4′s Peter D’Oench. Family members described him as a hard worker with an ambition to become a teacher.
“He worked every day,” Lopez-Ramos’ sister Irma Lopez-Ramos said. “He got up every day to go to work. I don’t know what happened.”
Federal prosecutors said Victoria Barkely was one of the three recruited and her boyfriend, Mitchell, was the ringleader.
“I don’t believe she was in any way in on the planning,” her mother Verneta Barkley said. “She worked too hard. She just got a job at Wackenhut.”
All five of the suspects were held without bond after their Tuesday afternoon court appearance.
“I know he was a good kid,” Larry Handfield, Kyler’s attorney said. “He was obviously caught up. Obviously he is devastated. His family is devastated. We are sorry for the loss of the victim.”
According to officials, Mitchell, an employee at Calder, met with Louissant, Barkley and Kyler to plan the robbery.
During this meeting, Kyler agreed to lend his truck to carry out the robbery. Also during the meeting, Mitchell gave Louissant a gun. After that, Barkely then drove Mitchell and Louissant to pick up Kyler’s truck, which was to be used to commit the robbery. Mitchell then drove himself and Louissant in Kyler’s truck to the Calder Race Track, officials said.
When Louissant and Mitchell arrived at the Calder Race Track, Lopez-Ramos was walking back to the Brinks truck carrying a bag full of money in the amount of $345,000 in cash.
“Just before five, the suspect gets out of the truck he goes to a bench and sits there. He waits until the armored car guard carrying some money leaves Calder,” said FBI Special Agent Mark Leverock.
The guard was being escorted by Ammar, who is also an employee at Calder. That’s when Louissant, armed with a gun, approached the guard. The Brinks guard drew his weapon and fired at Louissant.
Louissant, in turn, fired twice at him. Lopez-Ramos fell to the ground, and by the time his co-worker was able to get out of the truck, Louissant grabbed the bag with money and ran to the getaway truck, being driven by Mitchell.
Mitchell drove away from the scene to a designated spot where Barkley picked them up in a second getaway car.
After the getaway, Louissant went to the hospital for treatment of his wound, while Mitchell and Barkley hid some of the stolen money, discarded clothing, the money bag, other items, and then used some of the stolen money to gamble at the Seminole Hardrock Hotel and Casino.
Gary Pitner, who handles public relations for the Hardrock said both Mitchell and Barkley obtained new Player’s Club Cards Sunday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and played slot machines for about an hour and a half. As they both obtained new cards, there was no evidence of previous visits to the Seminole Hard Rock.
Lopez-Ramos was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center where he died at the hospital from the gunshot wounds, which officials said was inflicted by Louissant.
During the investigation that followed, officers learned that Ammar, the employee that had escorted Lopez-Ramos on Sunday, was actually involved in the robbery. According to the complaint, Ammar alerted Mitchell to the arrival of the Brinks truck.
Race tracks often have large amounts of cash on hand depending on the day’s betting handle, and armored car pickups are part of the routine.
The armed robbers sped off in a tan truck which was later found at the nearby El Palacio Hotel. Investigators believe this was no crime of opportunity.
“The stolen truck was brought here, somebody gets on a bench and approaches the guard, yes that was planned,” said Leverock.
Lopez-Ramos’s brother Ramon said, “We will always remember him for what he was.”
The president of Calder Race track expressed his sorrow, but a spokeswoman said no one could speak on camera about the two arrested employees. She did say background checks were done and they discovered no criminal problems.