Alicia Roundtree was on her way back from the supermarket when she was killed by a stray bullet fired from a man bent on revenge — but not against her. His truck, Miami Gardens police said on Wednesday, had been struck with a BB gun pellet.
Roundtree, a 43-year-old mother of three whose son was set to graduate from college in a few days, was driving home last month on Northwest 183rd Street after grabbing an early edition of the Sunday newspaper for its food coupons. She was shot in the neck by a stray bullet that police say was fired from a parking lot.
Her black Honda Pilot careened for three blocks before crashing in an intersection. By the time Miami-Dade Fire Rescue arrived, Roundtree was dead.
Police say that Donald Young, 52, became so incensed after someone struck his truck with a pellet from a BB gun that he chased two cars into the parking lot of the main public library in Miami Gardens and fired several rounds into the vehicles. None of the seven occupants in the two cars was injured.
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Tuesday afternoon, after an intense investigation and media campaign, Young turned himself in to police. He was charged with one count of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder, transported to the Turner Guilford Knight correctional center and denied bond.
The capture of the man who police charged with Roundtree’s death brought some solace to her family. But it will never, they say, fill the hole created by her loss.
“It’s more relief than any type of enjoyment,” said Roundtree’s brother, Gregory Roundtree. “We lost a valuable member of our family. This is not bringing her back.”
Gregory Roundtree said his sister’s three children, two boys and a girl, are doing as well as can be expected. Her 12-year-old daughter is now living with an aunt. Isaiah Raphael, 20, recently graduated from Broward College and plans on continuing his education at Florida Atlantic University. A third son is 23.
At a court hearing Wednesday morning in which Young was denied bond, his attorney argued that his client shouldn’t be facing a first-degree murder charge because he had no intention of killing Roundtree and because he was defending himself from the people who shot up his truck.
The wanton Dec. 9 gunfire that took Roundtree’s life rattled nerves in a community already plagued by gunfire, sparking fears of a potential sniper. Police quickly rejected that concern. But it took six weeks before Young, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in to Miami Gardens police.
According to police and witness statements, Young was towing a boat behind his Chevrolet Avalanche near Northwest 22nd Avenue and 175th Street when someone fired a BB gun that damaged his passenger window. He quickly turned around and began chasing a red Honda and a silver Nissan.
Once the vehicles reached the Miami-Dade Public Library at 2455 NW 183rd St., Young cornered the vehicles in the parking lot, took out a .40 caliber weapon, according to police, and opened fire. The drivers of the two cars struck by gunfire fled. One of the shots struck Roundtree as she was driving on the street in front of the library.
Police said they have video surveillance of the confrontation in the library parking lot. In it, Young’s arrest affidavit says, the suspect can be seen trying to block in two other cars, then getting out of his vehicle and firing into them as they take off.
Roundtree was returning home from Publix just before 8 p.m. on a Saturday night when she was killed. Her death stunned a close-knit family who begged the public for help in solving the crime.
Her son Isaiah Raphael, who graduated from Broward College a few days after his mother was killed, called her the greatest woman he had ever known.
“Whoever did this to my mother, they don’t know what they truly took from me,” he said. “They took the only woman who ever showed me that I could truly be someone. They took my number one fan.”
On Wednesday, Raphael echoed his uncle, saying the arrest of Young won’t bring back his mother.
“It gives me a pleasure I never thought I’d get back. But it doesn’t get my mom back,” said Raphael. “But I have nothing to say to him. It’s better that I never meet him.”