A bartender was shot and killed during an armed robbery that took place at Josephine’s Restaurant located at 5751 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton. The robbery occurred after the restaurant was closed for the evening although a few remaining customers were present at the time along with the owner and some employees.
Officers arrived at the scene shortly before midnight finding Rafael Rodriguez in a critical state after being shot by one of the culprits. Once given descriptions of the suspects, police began their search for four masked gunmen. Customers and employees described the men being black and/or Hispanic. The forensic team was able to lift shoe prints which they assumed belonged to one or more of the suspects
Boca Raton police spokeswoman Sandra Boonenberg said that as Rodriguez was walking one of the restaurant’s employees to the back door to let him out, four masked gunmen forcefully gained access to the restaurant and demanded cash and valuables from the lingering customers and employees. As the thieves prepared to leave, Rodriguez confronted them. They fought with him and his coworker, pushing them to the floor while pistol-whipping the waiter. Rodriguez responded by trying to defend himself and the waiter when one of the suspects pulled his weapon and shot the bartender, mortally wounding him.
“The bartender engaged them in some way inside the restaurant, and he got shot and killed”, Boonenberg said. He was taken to Delray Medical Center, where he later died of his injuries.
Various items were taken during the robbery, including cash, wallets, phones, and jewelry. In particular, a $20,000 Chopard watch was taken from the owner of the restaurant. It was this item that would ultimately lead police to tie the suspects to the robbery/murder during the course of their investigation.
Police began searching for the suspects since the commission of the crime and have followed several leads since the beginning of the New Year.
Last week, three Broward County men who have been identified as Quinton Sylvestre, Samuel Walker and Adalberto Montalvo have been formally charged with armed robbery and first-degree murder in connection with the shooting.
Boca Raton police said it was the Chopard watch stolen during the robbery that led them to the suspects and linked them to the occurrence.
The person who bought the stolen watch from the suspects was tracked down by detectives. They interviewed him and then recovered the watch. The buyer was able to give the detectives facts about the suspects and the watch’s sale was caught on the store’s video surveillance system, according to Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander. Police were then able to watch the surveillance footage of the sale determining that the men who peddled it to him matched the description of the robbers.
Detectives obtained phone records for two of the subjects who sold the watch, Adalberto Montalvo and Quinton Sylvestre. Through the course of the investigation police were able to conclude through analysis of these phone records that Montalvo and Sylvestre made calls the night before the robber/murder, as well as the night the crime occurred with a phone that belonged to Samuel Walker. Detectives also established that all three phones were in Boca Raton, in the area of Josephine’s during the time of the robbery.
Search warrants were then executed
During a search of their homes, police found a backpack filled with guns and a hockey mask, detectives said. They also found that the shoe prints found at the scene of the restaurant robbery did in fact match the soles of one of the pairs of shoes seized by police.
Detectives received endorsement from the firearms lab that one of the guns recovered was the one that fired the bullet that is responsible for the death of Rafael Rodriguez. Additionally, it was proved that it is Walker’s DNA that was found on the trigger of the gun. His DNA was also found on the expensive stolen watch.
The suspects were arrested in late January on an unrelated burglary charge. The subsequent investigation tied them to the robbery at Josephine’s and the murder of Rafael Rodriguez. Police used state of the art DNA testing equipment as well as the aforementioned cell phone tracking devices to place the men at the scene of the crime.
Click here to view the official Boca Raton Police Press Release:
The penalty for conviction of First Degree Murder can lead to severe sentencing repercussions. If the State files a Notice of Intent to seek the death penalty after conviction the death penalty can be imposed. In State cases the jury makes such a recommendation which the Court can overrule. In federal cases a jury’s recommendation of death must be followed. A skilled criminal defense attorney always seeks to avoid a first degree murder conviction and hence the avoidance of a death penalty. Such cases of second degree murder and lesser included offenses can still lead to severe sentencing decisions including life in prison.
First degree murder is designated as a Capital Offense. A conviction of armed robbery is a felony of the first degree punishable by imprisonment for a term of years up to and including life in prison. An accomplice to an armed robbery who was not the person that actually committed the murder can still be charged with first degree murder.
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