The day after a man who had recently moved to Miami Beach from Texas was shot and killed while walking with his girlfriend, police say the car used in the crime was reported stolen.
And the person who was last seen driving it hasn’t been seen since before the crime and has been reported missing by his family.
If it sounds confusing, that’s because it is. The details of the crime and those involved are so muddled, investigators are having a hard time connecting the dots.
“What I can tell you is our detectives are working around the clock trying to put the pieces together,” said Miami Beach police officer and spokeswoman Melissa Berthier.
It was just before midnight on Thursday and Kamil Patel, a 29-year-old who had recently moved to Miami Beach from Dallas to manage the Prada clothing store in Bal Harbour, was walking down an alley called Collins Court just south of Española Way with his girlfriend.
On a GoFundMe page set up for Patel, his girlfriend Katy Park said Patel had just picked her up from the airport and the two had drinks at Mac’s Club Deuce before heading over to a karaoke bar.
A one-minute video released by police that shows the moments before the shooting, shows Patel wearing dark colors and Park in white pants walking down Collins Court hand in hand. As they leave view, a white four-door Honda Accord with tinted windows turns right onto Collins Court just behind them. The couple and the car are out of view before the shooting.
Park told police that the car pulled up to the couple and someone got out of the front passenger seat, shot her boyfriend and got back into the car.
“That’s when time stopped,” Park wrote on the GoFundMe page. “A small African-American male got out of the passenger side of a white car pointing a gun at us. He fired two shots that hit Kamil in the left shoulder and abdomen, then got back in the car and disappeared.
“I am alive because Kamil protected me. He didn’t hesitate. His last words were ‘Katy, keep walking.’”
The GoFundMe page has raised about $18,000 of a $20,000 goal.
Through surveillance video, police were able to clearly identify the car and its license tag, a temporary one that reads CCP 4319. Police said nothing was stolen from Patel and as of Monday they were unsure of why he was killed.
“We don’t have any reason to believe the shooter or Mr. Patel knew each other,” Berthier said.
A reward for the capture and conviction of the shooter was increased to $13,000 when Prada kicked in $5,000.
Patel will be remembered Feb. 3, 2018, on what would have been his 30th birthday, in Buffalo, New York, according to the GoFundMe page.
Oddly, the day after Patel was shot and killed, the family of 54-year-old Orestes Conrado Marrero reported the Honda Accord with the same license tag as being stolen. And Marrero’s mother reported her son missing to Miami-Dade police on the same day. He hasn’t been seen since.
Police don’t know what happened to Marrero, or if he was in the car when Patel was shot. The driver of the Honda has not been identified.
If there is one, police have not yet been able to establish a link between Marrero, Patel or the shooter. But Park, the girlfriend who survived the shooting, said she won’t rest until the shooter is captured.
“I want the people who did this to know that there is an army of people, an army of resourced family, friends and co-workers, who will not rest until we find justice for Kamil Patel,” she wrote on her boyfriend’s GoFundMe page.
Miami Herald Staff Writer David Ovalle contributed to this report.