Victim’s sister thanks Miami police officer who saved woman from stabbing attack

Miami-Dade police have identified a man who was killed Sunday by an off-duty Miami police officer as Relvy Rodriguez-Palenzuela.

Police said Officer Rafael Horta, 29, was on his way home from work shortly before 7:30 p.m. when he saw Rodriguez-Palenzuela, 34, stabbing a woman at the intersection of 64th Avenue and Miami Lakes Drive.

Police said the woman’s sister, Yudmila Rodriguez, called 911 and said that her sister, Yurine Rodriguez-Perez, 27, had been shot.

But police said she had actually been stabbed multiple times.

Witnesses said that the officer tried to get Rodriguez-Palenzuela to put down the knife and fired at him when he refused to comply. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

“I just want to say to Officer Horta, thank you for saving my sister’s life. You saved our whole family,” Rodriguez told Horta Monday at a news conference. “If you weren’t there, my sister would be dead. You did the right thing at the right moment. You were there at the right time. My whole family says thank you to you.”

Horta recited a prepared statement at the news conference because the investigation into the shooting is still open.

“While I can’t speak about yesterday’s incident, I’d like to say I’m thankful to be a city of Miami police officer and serving my community,” Horta said. “I pray that Ms. Rodriguez heals from her injuries and I’d like to thank the city for their outpouring of support.”

Police said Rodriguez-Perez was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where she is expected to recover.

Her relationship with Rodriguez-Palenzuela was not immediately clear. 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting. Horta, who has been with the department for less than a year, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard protocol. 

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Man wanted in connection with armed robbery at Hialeah gas station

Hialeah police have identified a suspect who is wanted in connection with an armed robbery that was reported Sunday night at a Chevron gas station.

The robbery was reported shortly before 9 p.m. at the Chevron at 2060 E. Fourth Ave.

According to an incident report, a man, identified by police as Darshiel Pratt, 30, grabbed a soda from the coolers inside the store and then went to the counter and gave the clerk cash for the drink.

Police said Pratt then placed a handgun on the counter and began to point at the register when the clerk opened it, making a comment the clerk did not understand.

The clerk told police that she backed away from the counter and looked away, but saw that Pratt went over the counter and grabbed all of the money from the cash register — about $300.

She said Pratt ran away after the robbery.

Detectives said Pratt’s last known address was in the 14100 block of Southwest 263rd Lane in Homestead. They said he also goes by several aliases, including Tristan Reckley, Darshiel George Pratt and Deangelo Smith.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Hialeah Police at 305-687-2525 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8377.

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Nanny arrested in Jupiter boy’s disappearance faces judge

A nanny accused in the disappearance of a 4-year-old Jupiter boy that prompted an Amber Alert appeared Monday in a Miami courtroom.

Blanca Castro faced a judge, who ordered that she remain in jail without bond.

Castro was arrested Friday morning in Miami-Dade County on a warrant issued out of Palm Beach County.

“It says kidnapping a victim under 13,” Miami-Dade County Judge Mindy Glazer said as she read from an arrest report. “So those are your charges, and they’re very serious.”

Jupiter police said Dominic Caprio was reported missing Thursday afternoon. Police said Dominic’s mother left him at home with Castro, but when she returned an hour later, they were gone.

Police said Dominic, who was thought to have been traveling with his grandparents, Elizabeth and Luis Caprio, was back at home with his mother hours after Castro’s arrest.

“He is safe and sound,” Chief Frank Kitzerow said. “They’re happy to be together.”

The circumstances surrounding Dominic’s disappearance remain unclear.

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Charlottesville suspect James Alex Fields Jr. to face court hearing

James Alex Fields Jr., the man suspected of killing a woman as he allegedly mowed down a group of counterprotesters at a white supremacist rally in Virginia, is set to appear Monday in court via video link.Fields, 20, is accused of driving his car into…

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2 arrested in Miami Beach after guests attack friend, homeowner with kitchen knives

Two Miami Beach houseguests were arrested Sunday in connection with a stabbing that injured their host and another man, police said.

Tiaijia Hilliard and Brandon Jackson, both 25, were arrested on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

According to their arrest affidavits, Hilliard and Jackson had been living at the home on Pine Tree Drive for the last four months and were friends of the homeowner.

Police said Jackson and a friend, Malcolm Sawyer, got into an argument that turned into a pushing match.

During the fight, Hilliard grabbed two kitchen knives and ran behind Sawyer, stabbing him in the back several times, according to the reports.

Police said Michael Sension, who owns the home, intervened and was restraining Hilliard when he was cut on his hand while she tried to get free. Police said Jackson disarmed Hilliard and re-engaged Sawyer, holding a knife to his chest in a threatening manner during an argument.

Sension called 911.

When police arrived, Hilliard told officers, “I acted on impulse and made a mistake,” police said.

Sawyer was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in Miami to be treated for three stab wounds to his back. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.

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South Florida man confesses to accidentally shooting wife 30 years after claiming suicide

A South Florida man faces a manslaughter charge in the death of his wife, 30 years after he claimed she committed suicide.

James O’Neil, 83, of Lake Worth, was arrested Thursday after a monthslong secret between him and his daughter was revealed.

According to a probable cause affidavit, O’Neil told Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputies in 1987 that he and his wife, Verna O’Neil, had been arguing about her burning his dinner and her excessive drinking. He said Verna grabbed a gun during their argument and told him, “I’m just going to kill myself.”

O’Neil told deputies that Verna pointed the gun at her head and he tried to grab it from her, but the gun accidentally fired, shooting her in the face.

The medical examiner ruled that the manner of death was “undetermined,” but O’Neil’s daughter was skeptical.

When Sharon McGee visited her father last October and asked him what really happened to her mother on July 23, 1987, O’Neil revealed that he had actually killed her, the report said.

O’Neil’s account to McGee, who was 28 at the time of the shooting, was similar to what he told deputies decades earlier, with one distinct difference — he grabbed the gun away from Verna and told her, “Let me show you how it is done.” O’Neil then pulled the trigger, the report said.

McGee informed deputies of her father’s admission in February. She told deputies that her father told her “not to tell anyone, to keep it their secret.” She said she received a text message from her father that same evening that read, “I’m believing that you will sleep much better tonight, Love Dad.”

When detectives met with O’Neil and his current wife at their home in April, O’Neil admitted that he lied about the shooting “because he was afraid he would get into trouble.” According to the report, O’Neil told detectives that the shooting was an “accident.”

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