Roberto Cantillo, who was shot to death Wednesday night in a Little Havana apartment.
Roberto Cantillo was shot 10 times after an argument a few years ago and survived. Wednesday night, he got into another confrontation, this time in a Little Havana apartment. He was shot and killed.
He had gone to demand payment of a $500 debt, according to his ex-girlfriend.
Earlier that day, Cantillo, 23, had celebrated the birthday of his oldest son, who had turned 3. He dropped him off with Daylin Forte, the boy’s mother, and went to the apartment at 922 SW Second St. at about 7 p.m. to get the money.
According to witnesses who talked to authorities, Cantillo was carrying a gun. Soon after he entered the apartment, several shots were fired. When the police arrived, Cantillo was dead.
“I’ll never forget the date now,” said Forte, the mother of his two children.
Forte said Cantillo went to the apartment because the girlfriend of the man who lived there owed him $500 from a car crash four years ago. Forte said Cantillo had gone to the apartment several times before, but the woman, whose name has not been released, always refused to pay.
Cantillo died near where he grew up, an apartment building about six blocks away.
His life was filled with conflict. Born to a Dominican mother and a Cuban father, Cantillo never had a stable home.
“I knew him since he was 11,” said Hugo Miranda, who lived on the same floor as Cantillo. “He was raised without his mom, and his father lived under Section 8,” a housing subsidy program for low-income people.
When Cantillo’s father died a few years ago, the young man moved in with Forte because he couldn’t stay at the apartment. He didn’t qualify for Section 8 assistance.
According to Miranda, Cantillo spent his teenage years in and out of juvenile detention centers.
“Bikes would disappear and reappear dismantled,” he said.
Cantillo was arrested three times after he turned 18. In 2006, it was on grand theft auto and car theft charges. In 2008 it was battery. In 2009 it was robbery again. He never served time for the charges.
Cantillo, who was born in the United States, was never accepted by his mother’s family, according to Miranda. Cantillo’s relatives from his mother’s side are white, and his father was black. His dad never took care of him, and Cantillo never held a steady job.
“He wasn’t prepared,” said Miranda.
In spite of everything, Cantillo was a good man, according to Forte and Miranda.
“He was a good father and a fighter,” said Forte. “He always fought for his son.”
Miranda recalls that Cantillo had a particular skill in chess, which he developed while being detained as a juvenile offender.
“There was this guy who played really well, and he always beat us,” he said. “One day Roberto sat down to play, and he won in five moves.”