One of the men suspected of committing two armed home-invasion robberies that terrorized Miami Shores and el Portal has been arrested, police said.
Police took John Beaubrun, 20, into custody about 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Detectives traced a stolen credit card to him and obtained a photo of Beaubrun from surveillance footage, Miami Shores police Chief Kevin Lystad said.
The brazen robberies were the talk of the neighborhood, and more than 100 residents attended a meeting to discuss the cases with the police on Aug. 23.
In both cases, two young men approached the victims near their homes, pointed a gun at them, forced them to enter the house, and carried out the theft.
Miami Shores police suspected that the assailants are the same in both cases, which took place between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.
The first robbery occurred on Aug. 13 at the home of Alejandro and Alysia Ortiz on Northeast 101st Street near Third Avenue.
At about 11:30 p.m., Alejandro Ortiz was talking on his cell phone in front of the house when he saw two young men wearing hoodies with their faces partially covered coming out of the trees and pointing guns at him.
“The first thing I said to them was, ‘Be careful, there are cops around. Put your gun down, here is my wallet. You go one way and I go the other,’” said Ortiz, 33.
The men kept his wallet, but forced him to smash his phone against the ground, stuck their gun in his back and forced him to enter the house, Ortiz said.
Once inside, they pointed a gun at his wife’s head, who was watching television, and ordered her to lie on the floor. Alysia Ortiz told them that all the money they had was $60 in singles, which the assailants took from a desk drawer.
“They were looking for something they could put in their clothes,” he said. “They were calm and in a hurry. There was no yelling. Everyone was very cool. They wore gloves, did not touch anything and used their feet to move things. They knew what they were doing.”
The police report says that besides the $60, the burglars took the couple’s iPads, a purse containing the keys to the family car, Ortiz’s wallet and a MacBook laptop.
Then, on Aug. 19, two young men whose descriptions match that of the first assailants, pointed their guns at the head of Alejandro Amador, who lives only a few blocks from the Ortizes, on 89th Street in El Portal. It was about 10 p.m., and Amador was in the yard feeding his cats. As in the Miami Shores case, the men forced him to enter his house, where his wife, Diana, was with their 6-year-old daughter.
“I had just put my daughter to bed and I had fallen asleep in her bed,” said Diana Amador, who only remembers seeing her husband and hearing him tell the thieves to take whatever they wanted but to not hurt his family. “ ‘It’s all I have,’ ” she heard him say.
The men ordered everyone to lie face down in their daughter’s bed with pillows over their heads and to not look up.
“If everyone cooperates, no one will be hurt,” the assailants said, according to Amador.
Amador and her family remained face down for three hours. Then they stopped hearing them, waited a while and Amador’s husband ran to push the panic button. The police came after the alarm sounded in the house. “If they had still been in the house, I don’t know if I would be here telling the story,” Amador said.
“This is the kind of neighborhood where your neighbor has your keys,” Ortiz later said, upset about what had happened.
He believes that fear will linger for some time.
“I’m being more careful now. Any noise and I’m up. Our doors are locked up by 8:30 p.m.,” he said. “No one should be afraid of taking out the garbage at 10:30.”
Miami Shores detectives anticipate making more arrests in the near future, Lystad said.