Isaiah Raphael graduated Thursday with his associate’s degree from Broward College. His biggest cheerleader wasn’t there to witness it.
His mother, Alicia Roundtree, whom Isaiah described as the greatest woman he’s ever known, was killed Saturday night in Miami Gardens as she drove home from getting the early edition of the newspaper for her weekly coupons.
“Whoever did this to my mother, they don’t know what they truly took from me,” the 20-year-old said Wednesday during a press conference held at the Miami Gardens Police Department. “They took ... the only woman I ever truly loved. They took the only woman who ever showed me that I could truly be somebody. They took my number one fan.”
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Isaiah and several other members of his family, including his older brother and younger sister, came to the police department Wednesday to ask for the community’s help in solving their mother’s murder, which police are calling a random shooting.
“Please help me, help my family, and give us the closure we need,” Isaiah said, as his brother put an arm around him.
Roundtree, 43, was returning home from a Miami Gardens Publix just before 8 p.m. Saturday, driving west on Northwest 183rd Street when she was hit by a bullet. About that time, police said, they were notified of gunfire near the Miami-Dade Public Library at 2455 NW 183rd St.
Wounded by a single bullet, Roundtree continued to drive until she crashed at the intersection of Northwest 183rd Street and 27th Avenue, police said. She was taken to Aventura Hospital by helicopter, where she died.
The random shooting spurred social media rumors suggesting a sniper was shooting at cars. The department quickly quashed that theory, saying there was no evidence of that.
On Wednesday, police did not add many details about the investigation.
“As you can see here, you have a grieving family, a good family, a wholesome family,” Miami Gardens Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt said. “Alicia was a hard-working woman. She worked two jobs to surpport her three kids. If you know anything, I am making a plea to the community to please come out, say something. It could have been any one of us traveling down that street on that night.”
While police continue searching for her killer, her family is struggling to cope with their loss.
“She always called me her miracle child, but honestly she was a miracle mom,” said her son Jonathan Raphael, 22, fighting back tears. “She took care of all of us. Even when she didn’t have the money, she found a way to take care of us. She took care of anybody.”
Roundtree’s youngest daughter, Hailey Grant, 11, said her mother was a forgiving person who was never mad at anyone.
“It’s really hard dealing with this,” she said, right before breaking into sobs. “I know that you turning yourself in won’t bring her back, but it will make it go easier. So please turn yourself in.”
Greg Roundtree, Alicia’s brother, said his sister was the type of person everyone wanted to be around.
“We lost something good,” he said. “I am challenging the city to step up, to say something. Let’s change this city.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).