BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) – Three Broward County men that were already in police custody can now add first-degree murder to their list of charges.
Boca Raton Police say they have solved the violent January robbery and murder at a popular restaurant that left a bartender dead and a city on edge.
Arrested for the crime are Samuel Walker Junior, Adalberto Montalvo and Quinton Sylvestre. Investigators say they are searching for a fourth suspect.
Police say the men burst into Josephine’s Restaurant late in the evening on January 4th with masks on and at least one gun. The trio is accused of murdering bartender Rafael Rodriguez, pistol-whipping an employee and robbing several others.
Police Chief Dan Alexander says this is part of a disturbing trend of people from Broward County coming into their city and trying to commit crimes.
“These are the types of folks that are preying on our residents day in and day out,” Alexander said. “Robberies, burglaries, automobile burglaries — coming up from Broward County to commit these crimes on an ongoing basis.”
Detectives say the crucial piece of evidence in the case was a $20-thousand dollar watch stolen from one of the victims. Detectives say a patrol officer asked around after the crime and found that there was discussion about the watch. Investigators tracked down the piece of jewelry, recovered and figured out who sold it. That led them to the suspects.
“That was the biggest break that we had,” said Detective Chris Suarez.
Captain Matthew Duggan says the violent nature of the crime left residents fearful and police determined to find those responsible. He says detectives worked around the clock for several days after the crime to try and solve it.
“It was extremely surprising because it was extremely rare,” Duggan told CBS 4′s Carey Codd. “We don’t get violent crime in the city of Boca.”
Duggan says the trio again traveled from Broward to Boca to commit another crime in late January and were caught.
“These guys go to where the targets are,” Duggan said “To where the rich people live. Where there’s stuff that can be stolen.”
Duggan says it’s unclear why Josephine’s was targeted. All three men are charged with first degree murder and robbery with a firearm. Palm Beach State Attorney David Aronberg says since he took office he’s gotten more questions about the Josephine’s robbery and homicide than any other.
“Hopefully this will put the community somewhat at ease and we’re going to continue to work together to make sure justice is done,” Aronberg said.
Police reports indicate that investigators have solid evidence against the accused, including Walker’s DNA on the gun used to kill Rodriguez, a hockey mask with Sylvestre’s DNA on it and Montalvo’s shoes with Rodriguez’s blood on them. Police say each member of the group has spent time in prison.
“These guys are criminals,” said Alexander. “They’re career criminals.”
Investigators say the men took the life of a beloved man and destroyed the sense of peace in a community.
“A lot of people rallied around this restaurant and rallied around Rafael Rodrigeuz and his memory and it just added to our motivation to bring closure to the victims,” Suarez said.
Chief Alexander says his agency is working with law enforcement agencies in Broward and throughout the east coast of Florida to put a stop to these groups of people traveling up and down the I-95 corridor to carry out crimes.
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