Miami-Dade police on Wednesday arrested a man they believe shot and killed 10-year-old Aaron Vu at his parents’ nail salon in Northwest Miami-Dade but the search for at least one other suspect continued.
“We are not done with this case yet,” said Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson after announcing the arrest of 19-year-old Anthawn Ragan. “We are not going to stop looking for him but we definitely could use information that somebody may have out there in our community.’’
Patterson said that more than 100 tips came in after the Vu family made an emotional public appeal for information about two pistol-waving thugs that stormed Hong Kong Nails, 14832 NW Seventh Ave., on Friday. Aaron, a fifth-grader at Northwest Christian Academy in Miami, was shot to death. His father Hai Nam Vu, 42, took a bullet to the left shoulder and was recovering at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
For the family, the arrest offered at least a momentary break from grief. They jumped up and down, hugged, laughed and cried when they learned of it late Tuesday night, said Aaron’s great aunt Thi Pham, who spoke outside Ryder Trauma Wednesday afternoon.
“We are taking it day by day,” said Pham, who thanked the police continuing to hunt the second robber. “We just want it to be done and over with. The feeling of uncertainty, the feeling of not knowing, is not a good feeling.”
Ragan had his first appearance before a judge Wednesday morning and was held without bond on charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and battery on a police officer. Ragan was also charged with armed robbery and grand theft in connection with the Nov. 9 robbery of Arnold Royal Castle, 12490 NW Seventh Ave., in North Miami.
It was not Ragan’s first run-in with the law. Miami-Dade criminal court records show he was arrested in May of 2012 on an armed robbery charge but the case was dropped.
Ragan’s attorney, Steven Yermish, an assistant public defender assigned to the case, said he met with his client briefly on Wednesday.
“We are investigating the case and will vigorously defend it,” he said.
Lead detective Lt. Jim Tietz said Wednesday that Ragan’s arrest was the culmination of “intense investigative efforts and leads from the public.”
“It was an outstanding response from the public,” said Tietz. “Certainly the fact that it was a child really tugs at the heartstrings of everybody.”
At 3:40 a.m. Tuesday morning a tipster led police to Ragan’s sister’s home, 737 NW 53rd St., where the suspect was hiding. Ragan was found in the back bedroom, hiding under the bed covers, according to an arrest report. He ran from officers and was tackled to the floor in a hallway. He gave up and was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.
Tietz said Ragan has not cooperated in finding his suspected accomplice.
Tietz said the focus has turned to the second man and detectives are looking into whether others were involved as well. The men, one of who had a red shirt covering his face, left in a Dodge 1500 pickup truck. Store surveillance video showed two men on camera, but police are investigating whether anyone else was outside.
“I guarantee you there are people out there that know who the second subject or the third subject is,” Tietz said. “There is no doubt in my mind that people know who that is, covered face or not.”
A reward up to $25,000 will go to anyone with information leading to an arrest in the case. Contact CrimeStoppers at 305-471-8477 or 866-471-8477. Information also can be shared through www.crimestoppersmiami.com. Select “Give a Tip.” Or send a text message to 274637. Enter CMSD followed by the tip.