3 suspected gang members arrested in slaying of Miami Gardens student

Roderick Sweeting, 17, a junior at Norland High School, was shot and killed Tuesday, April 5, 2016, outside his an apartment complex in Miami Gardens, according to friends and family.
Roderick Sweeting, 17, a junior at Norland High School, was shot and killed Tuesday, April 5, 2016, outside his an apartment complex in Miami Gardens, according to friends and family. Family photo

Three teens, all believed to be part of a gang known as the Cloverleaf Boys, face charges in the murder of a 17-year-old student in Miami Gardens last week — an ambush investigators say was part of an ongoing feud.

Miami Gardens police and federal marshals on Tuesday arrested the three suspects, all of whom are juveniles: Quamaine McMillan, 15, Rachid Jacques, 16, and Devon Vickers, 15.

They are being charged with last week’s murder of Roderick Sweeting, an American High student who was gunned down April 5 after he exited a school bus and was walking home to the Oak Apartment complex on Northwest 176th Street and 25th Avenue.

His brother, who was walking with him, ran and yelled when he heard the initial gunfire. His relatives said Roderick didn’t hear the sounds because he was listening to music. A Miami Gardens police officer was close enough to hear the gunfire, but the teen was already dead by the time the cop arrived.

Investigators believe all three teens opened fire in a calculated ambush in broad daylight. Over two dozen bullet casings were found on the scene.

So far, authorities have not released exactly what evidence led them to the trio charged in the Sweeting slaying. For now, they are being held in juvenile detention on charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

“As Chief and as a father, tragedies like this are heart-wrenching because in total four young lives have been lost. We must continue to work together to bring an end to such senseless and heinous acts of violence,” Miami Gardens chief Antonio Brooklen said in a statement Tuesday.

Law-enforcement sources tell the Miami Herald the shooting stems from an ongoing feud between the Cloverleaf Boys — named after a neighborhood in Miami Gardens — and a group that calls itself 7 Block.

The bad blood is also believed to have played out in dramatic fashion on the Palmetto Expressway in Miami Gardens last month, sources said. In that case, a man named Alexander Haynes, 18, was shot in the temple — he is now blind — as he was in a car driving on the expressway at Northwest 37th Avenue.

McMillan himself is no stranger to gunfire. He has been wounded at least once before, records show. In August, somebody opened fire on him and three others in Miami-Dade’s Northside district.

Of the three, only Vickers has been arrested previously, state police records showed.

In February, Miami-Dade police stopped Vickers in a car in Miami Gardens, a stolen Glock pistol at his side, according to a police report. He was charged with grand-theft of a firearm and firearm possession by a minor.

He was first arrested in May 2015 when Miami-Dade police found him and a group of other young men inside a Ford Escape stolen at gunpoint in Opa-locka. He was arrested and charged with grand theft and resisting arrest.

What punishment, if any, Vickers received in those cases remains unknown because, as a juvenile, his court records are confidential.

The three were booked at Miami-Dade’s juvenile detention center.

Sweeting’s murder happened just hours before another teen, in an unrelated case, was gunned down in Little Havana — underscoring what has been a string of high-profile killings of teens and children in Miami-Dade County in recent months.

And as in the Sweeting case, young people have also been behind the violence, authorities say.

Just on Friday, a judge refused to allow an 18-year-old out on bail as he awaits trial in the high-profile killing of 6-year-old King Carter in North Miami-Dade in February. Leonard Adams and two other teens are accused of ambushing a rival, killing King with an errant bullet.