Broward County

He didn’t want to go back to jail. That killed a mom and her friend, cops say

Robert Goldsmith faces several charges, including murder not premeditated and cocaine dealing.
Robert Goldsmith faces several charges, including murder not premeditated and cocaine dealing.

The state of Florida convicted Robert Goldsmith of being a violent drug dealer several years ago. Sunrise police say Goldsmith deals guns and crack cocaine.

Now, he’s in trouble again.

Authorities say two 24-year-old women died on Tuesday because Goldsmith crashed a car into a canal trying to escape police, then didn’t tell officers about the passengers in the submerging car.

The 30-year-old Goldsmith faces two counts of murder not premeditated during a specific felony. That’s in addition to one count of selling cocaine, driving without a license resulting in serious injury or death, aggravated fleeing with serious injury or death, and selling cocaine.

Goldsmith is being held in Broward County Jail without bond on the two murder counts as well as violation of probation. He was on five years’ probation after serving six years, nine months and two weeks on a chunk of charges, including aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

The silver 2011 Nissan Goldsmith that drove into the canal is registered to Fort Lauderdale’s Hannah Gonzalez. Sunrise Fire Rescue divers found Gonzalez, a mother of a 3-year-old boy, and her friend, Denver’s Marquis Garcia, drowned.

4 vehicles that plunged into Miami-Dade or Broward canals Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

4 people who died in Miami-Dade or Broward canals Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

Tragedy and near tragedy happened in South Florida canals several times last week.

▪  CBS4 reported that a doctor, Paul Esposito, put his car into a Sunrise canal by Oakland Park Boulevard and Hiatus Road Wednesday morning. Good Samaritans saved Esposito, who didn’t know what happened to cause him to lose control of his car.

▪  A medical malfunction, Pembroke Pines police determined, with driver Sandy Rose allowed his SUV to rumble out of a parking lot and into a canal Wednesday afternoon. Good Samaritans and police rescued passenger Joan Rose, 61, who died at Memorial Hospital Miramar. Sandy Rose, 63, remains in critical condition.

▪  Early Thursday, Rasheed Smith, 29, died in a North Dade canal after running away from a Miramar development where a car burglary report drew police. After dawn, WSVN Channel 7 found a van in a Miami Gardens canal. No injuries were reported.

In last week’s double drowning, Sunrise police say Goldsmith bought stolen guns. But the Broward Sheriff’s Office already had a warrant out for Goldsmith when he didn’t show up earlier this month to be arraigned on tickets for driving with a suspended license and failing to register his car.

Using a confidential informant’s tip that Goldsmith had been selling drugs again, Sunrise cops set up a buy-bust between the informant and Goldsmith. According to the probable cause affidavit, Goldsmith agreed to sell the informant $100 of crack cocaine and did so at the Summerfield Apartment complex, 3200 NW 84th Ave.

When Goldsmith saw police closing in, he swung behind the apartment buildings to escape along the canal. There’s no road back there. The Nissan tumbled into the canal.

The affidavit says Goldsmith got out through the driver’s side window. Police placed him under arrest.

The affidavit says tinted windows and the night darkness prevented the informant from seeing anyone but Goldsmith in the car. As for Goldsmith, the report says he didn’t inform officers about anyone else in the car — a man and a woman “slumped in the back,” he told police according to the affidavit — until under arrest and questioned. By then, it was too late to save Gonzalez and Garcia.

Gonzalez and Garcia began their lives only a week apart, she in California and he in Seattle. She eventually attended South Plantation High. Four days after Garcia was sentenced on his birthday to time served for petit theft, he and Gonzalez got busted together. When Pembroke Pines cops rolled up to an Amscot to arrest Gonzalez on a check fraud charge, they say they found Garcia waiting outside with the car running and heroin in his back pocket.

Garcia was released on his own recognizance Jan. 6. They died together in the back seat of Gonzalez’s car four days later.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal