Police are searching for robbers who shot and killed a college student early Thursday morning after they broke into her North Miami Beach home and held her and her family hostage.
Guerline Noel, 29 and a nursing student at Keiser University, had gone out to her car around 12:30 a.m. when two armed men forced her back into the house in the 200 block of 175th Terrace, according to North Miami Beach Police spokeswoman Kathy Katerman.
Noel’s husband Clauvens Cenor was inside with her mother, sisters and the couple’s 3-year-old son when the men burst in, holding a gun to Noel’s head and saying they wanted money.
Cenor told them there was no money in the house, and the robbers locked him, Noel, their son and one of Noel’s sisters in a bathroom while they searched, Cenor told Miami Herald news partner CBS4.
Cenor pulled himself through a bathroom window and ran for help, then heard gunfire.
Noel also tried to escape, but the robbers shot into the bathroom, killing her, he told CBS4.
“By the time I ran back, I see them running this way and then as soon as I get in front of the door I didn’t hear no sound,” said Cenor. “Nobody was talking at all so I thought everybody was dead so I looked. I saw my wife, she was laying on top of the books inside the bathroom.”
Noel’s sister got out of the bathroom and escaped through a bedroom window. The couple’s child wasn’t hit by the gunfire that killed his mother.
“Why is this happening,” said Cenor as he tried to cope with the death of his wife.
Noel’s neighbor Kay Kramer was at home when the robbery happened.
She heard a commotion, but didn’t know what it was and thought it could be a family dispute.
“I heard a lot of screaming and crying, noise I’d never heard from there before,” said Kramer, 75.
By the time she went outside in the early morning, the family’s yellow-painted one-story home was surrounded by police officers and crime-scene tape, and the family was gathered outside on the lawn.
“The child looked so confused, and so sad, and it just broke my heart that someone would shoot a mother in front of their child,” she said.
“It’s such a sad thing. You hear about it all the time, but you never think it’s going to be next door,” she said. “These were just the friendliest, sweetest, quietest people.”
Kramer said she often walked her dog past the couple’s house, and if Noel passed by in her car, she always stopped and rolled down the window to day hello and ask Kramer how she was doing.
Noel’s family said she had gone out to the car that night to sit and study because their child was being “fussy.”
Kramer said Noel had spoken about missing a study session for an important test, and was trying to cram.
That’s when the two armed men approached her in the white Porsche and forced her inside, according to police.
“They said, ‘we need everything you guys have inside the house,’” said Cenor. “I said ‘we don’t have anything so whatever you see here just take it. Don’t shoot, don’t shoot no one.’”
The robbers locked the family in the bathroom and took their cell phones as they searched the rest of the house.
“They said, ‘nobody make any noise. If you make any noise we’re going to shoot you,’” said Cenor.
Cenor told CBS4 he’d never seen the men before, and thought they may have targeted the home because of the two Porsches in the driveway.
But the only objects they stole from the house were the cell phones they took to keep the family from calling for help.
North Miami Beach police said they do not think this was a random attack, but are not sure of the motive.
“There seems to be some design in their selection. That’s not to say that the victim was the intended target or even anyone inside this home was the intended target,” said North Miami Beach police spokesman Officer Mike Bolinger to CBS4.
Katerman, the police spokeswoman, said the crime did not seem similar to others in the area.
“We don’t know the motive behind it,” she said. “We’re looking at a lot of different paths, and we’ll rule them out one by one.”
Miami Beach Police canvassed the neighborhood around the home with fliers Friday night, looking for clues.
They have urged anyone with information to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.
Miami Herald news partner WFOR CBS4 contributed to this report.