Crime

Three teens charged with shooting death of unintended target at Halloween bash, cops say

Matthew Hernandez
Matthew Hernandez Miami-Dade police

Three teenagers have been charged with the murder of a Coral Park Senior High School student who was killed at a Halloween party last weekend. He was the wrong target in what police say was a gang-related shooting.

Police said that Angel Cueli, a 15-year-old freshman at Coral Park Senior High was fatally struck when two other teens fired into a small crowd that had gathered outside a Southwest Miami-Dade home.

“It’s gang-related,” said a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation. “But the kid that was hit was not the intended target.”

One law enforcement source said the suspected shooters were members of a local gang who billed themselves as the Maniac Latin Disciples, although investigators don’t believe they are actually connected with the long-established gang from Chicago. A gang associate had called the shooters because he’d been refused entry into the party, a source said, which was hosted by members of another small-time gang calling itself Big Dogg Nation.

Police and Angel’s aunt Claudia Cueli said the 15-year-old was not involved in either gang. Cueli said her nephew was just “waiting outside to be picked up,”

Cueli said the family was relieved the suspected shooter was captured but “that’s not going to bring him [Angel] back.”

“It’s not getting any easier,” she said. “And it’s just going to get worse because the funeral is Friday. We’re destroyed. He was our baby.”

Charged Tuesday afternoon with second-degree murder, discharging a weapon from a vehicle and tampering with an electronic device was Josue Cao, 17. Later Tuesday, police said 18-year-old Matthew Hernandez had also been arrested on charges of second degree murder and discharging a weapon from a vehicle.

And early Wednesday, police said 18-year-old Marcos Gonzalez had admitted to driving the get-away car and knowing others in the vehicle had weapons and planned to use them to target someone at the party. Gonzalez was also charged with second-degree murder.

Angel, who was in the ninth grade at Coral Park, was killed while he was talking with a group of friends beside a home at 20220 Southwest 132nd Ave. Witnesses told police that a black sedan pulled up to the party, someone stepped out and fired toward the crowd and Angel was struck. Police said there were at least two people in the vehicle.

Fourteen bullet casings — from three different weapons — were found on the scene, according to a source. Detectives also obtained surveillance footage as evidence.

The shooter then got back into the passenger side of the sedan before it drove off. The shooting created a chaotic scene, with teens diving under tables and scattering. A neighbor who heard the gunfire described hearing several pops.

Angel was airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

In Hernandez’s arrest report, detectives say Cao called Hernandez to tell him that there were rival gang members at the party. Hernandez showed up in a black sedan being driven by someone else. Police say the two “conspired to discharge firearms at the rival gang members.” Hernandez, police say, admitted to being involved in the shooting.

On Monday, Angel’s family and friends gathered at a Westchester church in honor of Angel. His parents spoke of the devastation of losing a child at such a young age to such a hideous crime, according to CBS 4.

“No mother wants to lose her son. Whether they’re young or whether they’re old and definitely not when they’re young,” Angel’s mother Patricia Huergo told the news station. “No mother should have to bury her son.”

“It was a simple, stupid, idiotic, drive-by shooting,” said Angel’s father, Alfred Cueli. “There’s no worse way to go. I can’t believe that.”

Claudia Cueli said Angel was an honors student who was kind and humble and who questioned everything.

“He was an angel,” she said. “His name says it all.”

Miami Herald staff writer Carli Teproff contributed to this report.
Chuck Rabin, writing news stories for the Miami Herald for the past three decades, covers cops and crime. Before that he covered the halls of government for Miami-Dade and the city of Miami. He’s covered hurricanes, the 2000 presidential election and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting. On a random note: Long before those assignments, Chuck was pepper-sprayed covering the disturbances in Miami the morning Elián Gonzalez was whisked away by federal authorities.
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