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Two Tampa men arrested in death of innocent bystander after a fight over line-cutting at a food stand

TAMPA — Tampa police have arrested two men in connection with a fight over line-cutting at a food stand that left an innocent bystander dead and seriously injured another.

Roberto Juan Martinez-Morales, 20, and Leeching-Hong Luberisse, 18, both of Tampa, were each charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder and for being felons in possession of a firearm after they were arrested Friday night.

This is what the Tampa police say happened:

On Aug. 8, Luberisse punched Eriberto Reyes, 27, as he stood in line at a portable food canteen on Hillsborough Avenue. His friend, Martinez-Morales, then pulled out a gun and shot Reyes three times in the abdomen.

A stray bullet hit Alquan Garner, 23, of Seffner, who was also standing in line but was not part of the fight.

Tampa police say Martinez-Morales told a witness that he shot both men.

Garner jumped into his vehicle and drove away. He crashed his car a short distance away and was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died from the gunshot wound.

Reyes, of Brandon, remains in serious condition at St. Joseph's Hospital.

Last week, homicide detectives found out that the men were staying at an apartment at 5902 Memorial Highway. Friday night, officers and deputies staked out the apartment.

Luberisse left the apartment after 8 p.m., and a police helicopter followed his vehicle while police went in the apartment. They found Martinez-Morales hiding behind a door in the living room, and they arrested him.

Law enforcement officers searched the apartment through the night, and all evidence will be taken to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing, police say. Deputies seized illegal drugs in the apartment, and they plan to file further charges.

Shortly after police entered the apartment, detectives pulled over Luberisse and arrested him.

Detectives tried to interview the men, but they were uncooperative, police said.

Garner leaves behind a fiancee, Sarah Mayor. They owned a home together in Seffner, and she said they were planning their wedding, their family and their life together.

"It's going to take a long time for me to understand why this had to happen," she said in a statement last week.

Her family had appealed to the community for help in solving the case. Reached by phone Saturday, Mayor's uncle, Rich Engwall, said he was glad to hear the men were arrested.

"We're pleased that it appears that the young man who did this is off the street so he can't do this again to anyone else," Engwall said.

He thanked the police department and Tampa residents.

"Now, it's up to the courts and judicial system to render whatever justice will be served," he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Tampa Police Department at (813) 321-6130.

Two Tampa men arrested in death of innocent bystander after a fight over line-cutting at a food stand 08/15/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 15, 2009 2:11pm]
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