MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Police are searching for a killer who shot two cousins of a veteran officer. One victim did not survive and now his grieving family is asking for the public’s help.
“We were so close, I miss him so much,” said the victims’ emotional mother, Diana Misla. “I just hope we catch the person who did this to my son. He could have taken both of my sons’ lives.”
In a CBS4 exclusive, Misla told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “My son gave his life in order to give his brother a life.”
Miami Police said the shooting happened at 1:24 a.m. in the parking lot of La Familia Bar and Restaurant at 2828 N.W. 22nd Avenue in the Allapattah section of Miami. They said 18-year-old Joshua De Jesus got into an argument with an acquaintance, 25-year-old Barbaro Felix Fortun.
As the argument escalated, police said 21-year-old Gregory De Jesus intervened. That’s when detectives said Fortun produced a .40 caliber pistol and shot the victims before fleeing the scene on the younger brother’s red cruiser bicycle.
Gregory De Jesus died at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Joshua De Jesus was shot in the hip and was released Tuesday afternoon from JMH. He declined to say anything when he arrived at his home. His family said he was too upset to speak.
The victims’ loved ones are distraught.
“Words can’t describe how we feel right now,” said the victims’ aunt Tasha DeArmas, as tears flowed down her face. “Like we always see on 48 hours, this happens, but you never thought it would happen to you but it happens to everybody’s family.”
“He was a humble guy. Everybody got along with him,” said Orlando Hernandez, the victims’ uncle. “He had two jobs and they took him away like that. He’s my boy. It’s like it is ripping my heart out of my chest.”
Hernandez told D’Oench that he recognized the photo of the man who police are looking for. “This is terrible. I just want justice for my nephews.”
Hernandez broke down in tears as he saw the card that the five-year-old daughter of Gregory De Jesus had crafted with crayons, announcing that she was collecting money for her father’s funeral.
That daughter, Henesis De Jesus, told D’Oench, “My daddy, my daddy, he got killed.”
“What do you want to say?” D’Oench asked the little girl.
“That my daddy’s up there and he’s watching me and I love him so much,” she responded.
The victims are cousins of Miami Police officer Richard Efrece, who has been on the force for 13 years and who has been on patrol in the same neighborhood where his cousins were shot.
“It didn’t just happen to my family,” said Efrece. “It happened in my area where I work. It makes it even harder because it hits home. Why would someone take somebody’s life over an argument. This guy is a danger to the community and we need to catch him as soon as possible.”
Efrece said he expected that the older brother would take steps to protect his younger brother.
“We’re tight knit,” he said. “When something like that happens, you help out your brother.”
Police describe the suspect, Barbaro Fortun, as a white male who is 5’9” tall, 155 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black short sleeve shirt and a sleeveless green military jacket and green army fatigue shorts and white and black sneakers and a baseball cap. He is considered to be armed and extremely dangerous.
Fortun has an extensive record. A check of those records shows he has been arrested at least 20 times on charges including loitering and prowling, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, grand theft and “battery of police/firefighters.”
Miami Police Sgt. Freddie Cruz told D’Oench, “We have to get this criminal off the street. He took the life of a young man and could have taken the life of his brother. This has special meaning to us. Now it hits home. It’s one of our family members who is affected by this criminal’s actions.”
“Call in please,” said the victims’ mother. “Let’s get him turned in as soon as possible. I hope the community will get together and help out.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Miami Police Department’s Homicide Unit at (305) 603-6350. You can remain anonymous and call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471- TIPS (4877), visit www.crimestoppersmiami.com and select “Give a Tip” or Send a text message to 274637. Enter CSMD followed by the tip information and press send.