Three men accused of shooting an off-duty Miami-Dade police officer at a Little Haiti church last month have been linked to a string of robberies — and at least one murder.
Willie Barney, Travares Santiago and Dedrick Brown were arrested Sept. 23 after police say they robbed and shot Officer Herman Joseph in the chest, sparking a massive manhunt.
The trio were formally charged with Joseph’s shooting on Monday in Miami-Dade circuit court.
Their crime spree, investigators say, actually began just days after Barney, 20, was released from state prison in July. He served two years for an armed robbery. The cases so far, prosecutors say:
* On Sept. 22, the men robbed Joseph of his jewelry as he did volunteer maintenance behind the Union Christian Bible church, 6701 NW Seventh Ave. They shot him with a .45-caliber pistol, but because Joseph twisted at the last second, he did not suffer a mortal injury.
“Sometimes when you believe in God, whatever the situation, he’s there with you,” his father, Andrew Joseph, told reporters after the shooting.
Joseph immediately called 911 and police began searching for the maroon Pontiac that linked the shooting to the earlier robberies. The officer was released from the hospital within days. He identified the men as the suspects.
* On Sept. 20, the men robbed a Miami Shores man who was mowing his lawn. A neighbor, chasing the car, identified part of the license plate number of the men’s Pontiac.
* On Sept. 18, police say the men robbed Barrington Kerr, 55, and another man in the 300 block of Northwest 190th Street. The men snatched Kerr’s chain, then shot him dead, according to a Miami Gardens police report.
Another man was shot in the incident. He survived and identified Barney and Brown as his attackers. Prosecutors are expected to file formal charges – murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery – on Wednesday.
* On Aug. 9, the men robbed a Brownsville man doing repair work on his truck in Brownsville. The loot: jewelry and a cell phone. The victim identified the men.
Police have also charged the men with another July 28 robbery. Detectives from Hollywood, Pembroke Pines and Hialeah are investigating robberies possibly linked to the group.
Santiago is believed to have driven the getaway car, a maroon Pontiac used throughout the crime spree. Also, detectives recovered the gun believed used by Barney in the crime spree.
The trio were captured in the Pontiac shortly after the last shooting.
Barney is no stranger to the law. When he was 16, he was arrested for an armed robbery. He was sentenced to one year in prison as “youthful offender,” court records show. When he violated his probation, Barney was sentenced to another two years in state prison.