Violent crimes unnerve affluent Miami suburb

Published Aug. 9, 1992|Updated Oct. 11, 2005

While three violent crimes in three weeks, let alone three in three months, wouldn't raise an eyebrow in Miami, they have jangled nerves in the self-proclaimed City Beautiful.

"I'm terribly disturbed by what's going on in this city," said Coral Gables Mayor George Corrigan. "There is no question we are being targeted because of the affluent neighborhoods in Coral Gables."

First it was a bumbling burglar who accidentally killed himself in Cocoplum on June 4. Then a killer bludgeoned an elderly woman in her quiet North Gables home. Thursday, a purse snatcher shot and killed a wealthy 33-year-old woman outside a beauty salon in downtown Coral Gables.

Miami has recorded 26 homicides since June, but the three crime-related deaths in three months compare to five in the previous 2{ years in Coral Gables.

"I'm going to call a special commission meeting to authorize the Police Department to do whatever it takes to stop this," Corrigan said. "If we need to hire more men, buy more equipment, give out overtime pay, so be it. We will come out with a show of force to stop these people."

"It's scary," said Shelia Wallace, a teacher at Coral Gables Elementary School. The school is half a block away from where Alina Rossique-Falcon was shot Thursday.

"I used to feel this was the safest neighborhood in Dade County. I mean, that's why people live here, shop here, work here. But it turns out that no place is immune from crime," Wallace said.

Thursday's slaying occurred about 4:30 p.m. outside the Clara Lorenzo 2000 Hair Designer salon. The victim parked her late-model tan Jaguar and dashed into the salon to buy shampoo and conditioner, promising to return Friday for her regular styling.

As she left, two men grabbed her purse. She grabbed it back and ran for her Jaguar. One man shot through the car window. One reached in and snatched her purse. Both fled in a 1992 Mercury Tracer, where at least one accomplice waited.

Rossique-Falcon died almost instantly, police said.

Friday, Metro police arrested one suspect, Raymond Smith, 20, of Albany, Ga. Smith was in town visiting friends and allegedly used their car to commit the crime, police said. Police are following up on information they hope will lead them to two others suspected in the murder.

The crimes began June 4 when Israel Tamarit stole a Rolex from a Cocoplum homeowner at gunpoint, then died after the gun he tucked in his pants fired into his stomach.

The second crime occurred July 27, when a 68-year-old woman was murdered in her home. Her 62-year-old sister was raped. The alleged assailant, Donnie Rondel, turned himself in to South Carolina police and was returned to Miami.

"We don't know exactly why these crimes are happening now," said Mitch Fry, Coral Gables public information officer. "All I can tell you is that there is a lot of unemployment, and Coral Gables is where the money is. But this one on Thursday could have turned out differently. If someone points a weapon at you, give them what they want. It's not worth losing your life."