The man charged Thursday with the shooting deaths of two sisters visiting friends in Liberty City last month was detained by police less than three hours after the women were murdered, an arrest warrant obtained by the Miami Herald shows. But police were forced to release him until they built the case, a source familiar with the double murder said.
On Thursday, police caught up with Drakar Smith, 20 — who was on probation after a grand-theft conviction and for carrying a concealed firearm — took him into custody and charged him with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. He’s being held at the Turner Guilford Knight correctional center and was denied bond.
“He was on the run. We grabbed him on the warrant,” said the source.
Police built the case through a combination of forensics, eyewitness accounts and social media searches that uncovered violent homemade videos, the warrant shows. Stephanie Telusme, 27, and her sister Joanna Telusme, 24, both Broward County residents, were gunned down in the parking lot of a Liberty City apartment complex on April 14 while they were visiting friends.
“These two young women were innocent victims of the type of random violence my prosecutors and Miami-Dade Police Homicide Task Force are committed to ending,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Still, a month after the sisters were gunned down and now after the arrest, police haven’t indicated what motivated the killings.
Police said they were first alerted to a shooting at the old Annie Coleman complex at 6101 NW 20th Ave., adjacent to Liberty Square, just before 1 a.m. April 14. When they arrived they found four people had been shot.
Dead were the Telusme sisters, who family members said were picking up friends with plans to go out for the night. Injured and taken to the hospital were Robert Allen, 30, and Jennifer Charles, 24. The four were standing in a parking lot talking when a gray four-door 2019 Toyota Camry drove up and gunfire erupted.
The Telusme sisters “weren’t even the ones who were targeted,” their cousin Terry Silien told Miami Herald news partner WFOR Channel 4. “They were innocent bystanders.
According to Smith’s arrest warrant, an officer who was nearby at the time of the shooting heard the gunfire and tried to stop the Camry. Police said it finally stopped about six blocks away and four men got out and ran off in different directions.
Inside the Camry, according to police: two AK-47 assault rifles, a semi-automatic 9 mm Glock pistol with an extended magazine, and a red bandanna. Police set up a perimeter and within three hours found Smith hiding under a tarp behind a home. Forensics experts later matched bullet casings found at the shooting scene to the Glock and matched the red bandanna to Smith through DNA, according to Smith’s arrest warrant.
Autopsies were performed on the Telusme sisters and police said the bullets found in their bodies matched the weapons found in the Camry.
But police uncovered more evidence tying Smith to the murder of the sisters, according to the warrant. And that evidence originated the day before the sisters were killed.
According to the warrant, Miami-Dade police visited a home in the 2400 block of Northwest 50th Street on April 13 after being told there were more than two dozen men sitting on a balcony with automatic weapons. When cops got there, they didn’t find any weapons. But the investigation led police to an Instagram page and a video that showed several men with rifles and handguns.
In the video: Smith, wearing the same red sweater he wore the night he was detained for the shootings — and the same red bandanna police found in the car was tied to his waistband. “Smith is also observed holding a handgun in the video,” police said in the warrant.
That led police to Smith’s Facebook page, “which depicted Smith inside a vehicle with several other males and holding a firearm similar to a firearm recovered from the vehicle.”
On Wednesday, Miami-Dade homicide detectives and investigators from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Northside Gun Initiative located Smith and took him into custody.
“Senseless gun violence in Miami-Dade County will not be tolerated,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.