But mostly they wondered who took the life of a religious man who wasn’t carrying money as he strolled to synagogue for Sabbath services.
Now, after months of painful mystery, a suspect is in custody. A DNA match and eyewitness testimony helped identify a 14-year-old Norland High student as the alleged killer who gunned down Rabbi Joseph Raksin.
“Everyone was talking about it in shul (temple) this morning,” said Yona Lunger, a Miami-Dade Jewish community activist and member of a neighborhood watch group known as the Shmira Patrol. “It couldn’t be better timing than to happen during Hanukkah when each day was a miracle.”Izzy Labkowski, Raksin’s son-in-law, said Wednesday that knowing that someone is being held in custody for his father-in-law’s death brings some comfort.
“This is a sad situation especially when we hear that the (alleged) murderer was 14 years old,” he said. “We just hope other young kids learn from this.”Miami-Dade police arrested Deandre Edwin Charles, now 15, at dawn Wednesday after a grand jury indicted him on first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery.
Raksin, visiting from Brooklyn, was felled with one fatal .40-caliber round to the chest on the morning of Aug. 9, 2014. Raksin was on his way to Bais Menachem Chabad.
In accordance with his beliefs, Raksin was not carrying any valuables on the holy day of rest — but was nonetheless targeted by at least two young people, one wielding a pistol.
“We believe this was a robbery,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle said during a news conference on Wednesday attended by police brass, religious leaders and the county’s mayor. “It was a crime of opportunity.”Said the rabbi’s daughter, Shulamis Labkowski-Raksin:
“We want this vicious thug to be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows.”The killing rocked the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community, where the devout suddenly feared walking to synagogue. They pooled $50,000 for a reward leading to an arrest. In New York City, hundreds mourned at services for the rabbi.
The arrest capped an exhaustive 16-month investigation in which homicide detectives combed through cellphone records, tested evidence for DNA and even relied on a sketch drawn by a neighbor who saw the gunman running from the scene.
Miami-Dade prosecutors declined to reveal more details about the case. Exactly where the DNA was found at the crime scene, and how detectives obtained a sample from Charles, remains shielded from the public as detectives look to build a case against others believed to be involved in the killing.
“Turn yourselves in or we will come get you,” said Juan Perez, Miami-Dade police’s acting director.Prosecutors Michael Von Zamft and Marie Mato on Tuesday secured a grand jury indictment. By Wednesday morning, the Norland High student was arrested at his home in Northwest Miami-Dade.
Charles refused to talk to homicide detectives and was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
His family told reporters that Charles was home at the time of the shooting.
“He was home at the time. His whole family knows that,” stepfather Willis Archibald told reporters. “They are pinning this on a young teenager that has a lot of issues but this is ridiculous. I am 100 percent sure that he is innocent.”
Source: Miami Herald