Articles Tagged with Murder

It appears that an off-duty Coral Springs firefighter was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It was a warm balmy Florida Saturday evening when Christopher Randazzo decided to visit one of his old haunts where he previously tended bar for close to twenty years.

The Aruba Beach Café, right off the water’s edge has been a fixture in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea for many years, catering to those who enjoy tropical drinks, excellent American-Caribbean cuisine and live nightly music. The popular establishment is accessible by both land or by aquatic means.

The four boys were attending a party in Homestead when they apparently got bored and decided to leave. They drove around the area for a while in Quentin Vicks’ Ford Taurus stopping at a liquor store before moving on to the area of Mr. Vick’s neighborhood of Hidden Grove.

At the same time the four young men were en route to the South Miami apartment complex. Robert Nelson was making his rounds for his employer; 50 State Security, in his company car. He had previously worked as a flight attendant before taking the armed yet un-uniformed security job. Their paths crossing ended in tragedy with the ambush style murder of the security guard.

Nelson was well liked at the apartment complex which was located at the intersection of Southwest 271 Terrace and 138 Avenue close by to the Crystal Learning Center. One neighbor who was interviewed recalled Nelson helping his wife to the door of their apartment in the late night hours when it was very dark outside. “He shined the light on my doorway so my wife could come up the steps,” the neighbor said. Others living in the complex also had only good things to say about the security guard.

This article is about the case of a Clearwater High School teacher named Cara Ryan who admitted to the shooting death of her ex-husband, John Rush, a retired Sergeant for the St. Petersburg Police Department.

You can find the lead-in to this blog post on my Website by clicking here

Ms. Ryan was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in March, 2015. Investigators didn’t believe that Ryan lured Rush to the apartment with the intent to kill him.

Her bail was originally set at $500,000 but was cut in half by the same Circuit Court Judge a few days later.

The judge stated that although the evidence against Ms. Ryan was “pretty significant,” her family ties in the area made her a low flight risk. She was released on bail the following morning, about a week after her initial arrest.

Continue reading ›

The name they use sounds like they could be a secret government agency or espionage unit but in reality MS-13 is a ferocious, violent street gang with its roots established in Los Angeles via Central America which has been infiltrating many U.S. cities over the past three decades.

It was just a few months ago, in early September when one of their members, Adalberto Ariel Guzman, a/k/a Gringo was convicted for the 2010 murder of Vanessa Argueta, a 19-year-old mother along with her 2-year-old son Diego Torres in Central Islip, New York. Guzman, 21, bolted to El Salvador after the shooting but was arrested when he reentered the United States later that same year. A total of twenty-five members and acquaintances of the gang were charged in a 70-count indictment in March 2011 that led to his conviction. According to prosecutors, Guzman shot the woman for the sole reason that he believed she had shown disrespect toward the gang. The child was killed simply for being with his mother at the wrong place at the wrong time. Guzman was the last of three defendants in this particular case, the others being Heriberto Martinez, and Rene Mendez Mejia who were previously convicted for their role in the mob-style murders.

Last week, Carlos Ortega, a/k/a Silencio, a leader of the Sitios Locos Salvatruchas faction of MS-13 received a life sentence plus sixty years for all counts listed in an indictment against him including murder, conspiracy relating to racketeering, as well as assault with dangerous weapons, and related firearms and conspiracy charges. The sentence was handed down in the Central Islip federal courthouse following a six-week trial concluding with Ortega’s conviction, this past March 21.

MS-13, the known pseudonym for Mara Salvatrucha or MS for short, was founded in Los Angeles’s Pico-Union neighborhood in 1980 by immigrants from the Central American country of El Salvador. The word “Mara” refers to the Spanish word for gang and “Salvatrucha” is a term noted in Spanish slang as a Salvadoran army ant. Another rendition of the word Salvatrucha translates to Salvadoran peasant guerrilla which was a good part of who the gang’s early manpower consisted of.

The reference to the number 13 in MS-13 is credited to the gang “Los Emes” shortened in English to “The M’s” which is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet. The M’s were a similar gang that also originated in Los Angeles.

Besides operating in numerous cities in the United States, the gang has offshoots’ mostly in Central America but has also been known to operate in South America and Canada as well. They were originally fashioned to safeguard Salvadoran immigrants from rival Mexican gangs that were victimizing them and were made up of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans. They have been branded the most dangerous and violent gang in the United States, as well as one of the most organized. Over the years they have been considered to be the only street gang of their type that can be mirrored to a true organized crime enterprise.

The gang’s strongholds have generally been on the West Coast and in Southwest cities but over the past decade their influence has widened on the East Coast to New York including its suburb of Long Island, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Florida. Midway through the first decade of the twenty-first century it was believed that their membership had grown in excess of 50,000 members.

After catching the attention of federal law enforcement agencies, an initiative named Operation Community Shield was set up as a joint effort by the FBI and ICE. In 2005 during the first year of operation OCS was responsible for more than 600 arrests against suspected gang member throughout the United States including many from MS-13 and in 2005 began a campaign of cracking down on the growing street gang. Since then, thousands of gang members, many of them members of MS-13, have been rounded up, arrested and convicted of crimes relating to diverse varieties of street violence and murder.

But in the case against “Gringo” and “Silencio” it was investigations led by the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force, which was comprised of officers and agents of the Nassau County Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, along with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and Department of Probation as well as the Rockville Centre Police Department that led to the downfall of Adalberto Ariel Guzman who awaits sentencing in January for his conviction, for the two murders that was powerfully described as “brutal, cold-blooded executions.” by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco, and Carlos Ortega who’s conviction resulted in the life sentence plus 60 years for the “heinous acts of violence in the name of MS-13, cutting a swath of murder from Brentwood to Far Rockaway, all within the span of a few weeks,” as stated by U.S. Attorney Lynch.

Continue reading ›

Greenwich Village is a mostly residential area of the west side of Lower Manhattan. The largest majority of people who live there are basically upper middle class families. Known in the latter part of the 19th century through the present, the “Village” has been labeled a haven for artists, as well as the bohemian capital of New York City. It is also credited as the birthplace of the Beat movement of the East Coast. The neighborhood is encompassed by Broadway to the east and the Hudson River to its furthest point west. To the south lies Houston Street and it travels north to 14th Street. The neighborhood essentially centers New York University and Washington Square Park.

Living among the wealthy residents who live in stylish apartment buildings or own their own renovated brownstones, there is a large gay community. This group is known to mostly frequent the bars and clubs of the west village.

While traveling through the Village it is not unusual to run across openly gay members of its population. Two men, or two women, walking together holding hands with each other is more the rule than its exception. Especially north of the Avenue of the Americas which is the unofficial line of demarcation separating the east and west village. Within the community’s whole there is the realm of gay men and lesbians and the bars they frequent as well as the domain of straight men and women who visit clubs that fit a heterosexual lifestyle.

It was on a corner of the Avenue of the Americas that Mark Carson, 32, heard the words “You want to die tonight?”

Carson was walking with a companion as he was being followed by Elliot Morales, who was repeatedly shouting anti-gay slurs at the two. After his final hateful proclamation, he allegedly shot Carson in the face with a silver revolver. Carson was found fatally wounded by police lying in the street and later died of his injuries after being taken to Beth Israel Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

A short time later, Morales was picked up when a police officer spotted him a few blocks away from the crime scene. The officer heard the description of the perpetrator on his radio and made the arrest upon seeing Morales.

Approximately 15 minutes before the murder took place, the alleged killer was noticed urinating outside a fashionable restaurant a few blocks from the crime scene, according to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Kelly labeled the murder a hate crime. “There were no words that would aggravate the situation, and the victim did not know the perpetrator,” he said.

Before a commencement address that he delivered in White Plains, when speaking about the incident, he went on to say “It is clear that the victim here was killed only because and just because he was thought to be gay. There is no question about that.”

Police also questioned two unidentified individuals who had been seen with Morales moments before the shooting took place. The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said that the two men were questioned as witnesses to the murder and were not, considered suspects at this time. He also said that they were cooperating with the authorities.

According to state Department of Correction records it was found that Mr. Morales had been found guilty of a robbery and served more than 10 years in prison for his conviction of that crime. Until his arrest he had been staying with one of the two men who is now being questioned as a witness at his home in Far Rockaway, Queens. Police found another gun amongst Mr. Morales’s belongings at that location.

According to an undisclosed source, Mr. Morales’s sister, Edith Gutierrez, said she did not believe her brother could have committed a crime of such bias. She said that they have gay relatives and her brother had never shown any signs of homophobia. She also said that when she spoke with her brother in jail, “he said he doesn’t remember anything; he was under the influence, he was drinking.”

After making his first appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court, he was charged with murder and weapons charges, according to the Wall Street Journal. Pending his next court appearance he is being held without bail as ordered by Judge Robert Stolz.

Morales, said nothing at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court and his attorney chose not to comment on the case.

Continue reading ›

The leader of the notorious Yonkers Elm Street Wolves street gang was found guilty yesterday in White Plains Federal Court of the murder of a rival gang member as well as numerous federal crimes specifically racketeering, firearms offenses, and drug charges. The gang operated in the Nodine Hill section of Yonkers.

In 2011, Steven Knowles was arrested on a 21 count indictment along with 47 other Elm Street Wolves gang members on charges dealing with firearms offenses as well as the distribution of large amounts of crack cocaine. At the time, he and fellow gang members Michael Andrews and Dexter Granger were also charged with the murder of Christopher Cokley, a member of a rival gang.

Since their arrests, many of the 47 gang members have accepted plea bargains or have been found guilty of similar charges.

In early 2011, Davon Young, aka “Burners”; Thomas Chambliss, aka “TC”; and Gregory Fuller, aka “Murder”, all members of the gang were found guilty of narcotics conspiracy, robbery, robbery conspiracy, firearms possession witness tampering offenses, and murder. They all suffered stiff sentences. Chambliss was sentenced to 45 years, Young to 65 years and Fuller to 100 years in prison.

After that conviction a statement was released by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, detailed as follows: “Today justice has been served. These defendants will serve substantial prison sentences as a result of their participation in a brutal murder and other serious crimes. These sentences send a clear message that drug dealing and gang violence will not be tolerated in Yonkers or in any other community this office serves.”

Yesterday’s conviction now holds Knowles accountable not only for Cokley’s murder but also for nearly a decade of dealing drugs in the community and the commission of unimaginable acts of violence in the Nodine Hill area.

Based on the evidence disclosed at the trial:

For more than a decade, from 2000 until his arrest, Knowles was a member of a street gang that was known as the Elm Street Wolves. As time passed, he became the leader of said criminal racketeering enterprise. During the time of his authority, he conspired to kill Christopher Cokley, a member of a rival gang that went by the name Strip Boyz. The murder was carried out on July 4, 2009. Previously, in October, 2007, he shared a role in the attempted murder of another member of the Strip Boyz; Tremaine Garrison, also known as “Triggermain”. Additionally, Mr. Knowles was a lead player in the more than decade-long conspiracy to distribute large amounts of crack cocaine on an ongoing basis in the Nodine Hill area of Southwest Yonkers, New York; specifically within the circumference of thoroughfares between Elm and Oak Streets. Other evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Knowles and his cohorts were in possession of a substantial arsenal of weapons such as hand guns, which they flaunted, and discharged in association with their racketeering and drug trafficking enterprise.

The jury’s decision was that Knowles was guilty of murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering, conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine as well as discharging firearms in continuance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence.

He was found not guilty on one of the counts of attempted murder and one of the counts of possession. He was also acquitted on one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and one of the counts of carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

In his latest statement United States Attorney Preet Bharara commented “This conviction is a continuation of the long-standing commitment by federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities to rid Yonkers and other communities in the Southern District of New York of violent drug gangs. Law enforcement has pledged itself to this cause for several years now and has not stood down.”

Knowles sentencing will be held before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M Karas on May 29 of next year. He will face a compulsory sentence of life in prison.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information