A Miami Lakes man told police that in a desperate attempt to save his brother’s life he accidentally shot and killed him instead.
Julio Caesar Suarez said he believed his brother was being held against his will in another vehicle and he was trying to save him as the cars screamed through downtown Miami on Tuesday night, leaving behind a trail of wrecks, downed light poles and frightened drivers forced to take evasive action.
The chase ended after Suarez emptied the magazine from his gun into a Ford Taurus being driven by a man named Frank Jones, who Suarez told police he thought was the kidnapper. Suarez’s brother Jose Rivero was in the passenger seat of Jones’ car. Police believe Suarez fired from inside and outside his car.
Jones was badly injured and Rivero was killed. Suarez’s Nissan Sentra came to a stop after rolling up next to the patrol car of a Miami cop working an off-duty gig in downtown Miami.
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“He was trying to kidnap my brother. I think I shot my brother. I think I shot my brother by mistake,” Suarez told the officer, according to arrest records.
Suarez, 33 and from Miami Lakes, was charged with second-degree murder with a deadly weapon and attempted first-degree murder with a deadly weapon. He was transported to Turner Guilford Knight correction center and denied bond.
Miami police, as stunned by the sequence of events as the drivers who tried to avoid the mayhem, aren’t entirely certain of what transpired and why, even almost two days after the incident.
As of Thursday night they had not spoken with Jones, who remained hospitalized. And Suarez has since asked for a lawyer and refused to speak with police.
It’s not yet clear why Suarez thought his brother might have been kidnapped. They’re not even certain if Suarez was telling the truth about the reason he opened fire on the car.
“The gentleman [the alleged kidnapper] is in the hospital and he hasn’t been charged with anything that I know of,” said Miami police spokeswoman Kenia Fallat.
Police said besides being notified by the off-duty officer on the scene, they were alerted to the incident after receiving a call just before midnight Tuesday about a man who had been shot at the intersection of Flagler Street and Miami Avenue.
When police arrived, Suarez’s arrest affidavit says, they found both cars about 50 feet from the intersection and both cars filled with bullet holes. The report says police found a black semi-automatic handgun and an empty magazine in Suarez’s car. It wasn’t clear how his car got shot up.
Video footage taken by a witness and given to police shows Suarez wearing beige pants and a black shirt as he fired at will into Jones’ Taurus. At one point, police said, Jones tried to get away and Suarez kept firing through the front windshield and the passenger side window — where his brother was seated.
A law enforcement source familiar with the incident said Suarez had a clean background.
“There’s a major piece missing,” said the source. “And unfortunately, the guy who knows the answer is dead.”