Police Find Jeep, Detain “Persons Of Interest” In Tourist Murder

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There have been major developments in the investigation into a visitor from New York who was shot and killed over the weekend outside Miami Beach’s famed News Cafe.

Miami Beach police say they have recovered a Jeep they believe was used in the murder. They also said more than three people are being interviewed and are cooperating with police.

The Jeep was found at a car rental business in northwest Miami-Dade. The owner of the business said he may have rented it out.

“We rented the car Friday to three guys from New York,” said Pedro Alvarez.

Tuesday morning Miami Beach police set up a perimeter and were able to take two ‘persons of interest’ into custody at 185 SE 14th Terrace in Miami. Detectives say they want to know if the men have information about the homicide.

Lavon Walker, a 30-year old youth pastor from Brooklyn, was shot twice at 8th Street and Ocean Drive just before 7 a.m. on Sunday.  He died at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“It is disconcerting whenever there is violence anywhere for us. To have something like this happen at the breakfast hour is very troubling,” said city commissioner Ricky Arriola.

Witnesses told police they saw a white Jeep with tinted windows speed away after the gunshots. Surveillance video shows a white Jeep zipping through the intersection at Collins Avenue and 8th Street, one block away from cafe, after the shooting.

Alvarez said his employees noticed damage on the vehicle when it was returned.

“By coincidence when one of our employees saw the news this morning he figured out that he saw one bullet impact in the car and a broken light, so we figured out this was the car they were looking for so we decided to call police when we saw the car involved with killing the guy,” said Alvarez. “We’re sad that he got killed.”

Walker, an ex-con, had cleaned up his life and was involved in the fight against gun violence in his home community of Crown Heights. Friends say Walker was constantly trying to get people in the community to resolve their differences peacefully.

Arriola said it appears that Walker was targeted.

“It does not appear to be random. There does appear to be some kind of previous knowledge between the folks so tourists should have some reassurance that police are here to keep them safe and that we are going to catch these guys. That this was not a random act,” said Arriola. “Tourist should know that this is something that does not happen on Miami Beach.”

Investigators are looking into whether Walker was followed here from New York. Walker’s friend said he was in South Florida to relax on the one year anniversary of his mother’s death.

Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS. There is a reward of up to $3,000.

More from Peter D'Oench

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