A Shot in the Dark

Who did Mario Barcia think he was aiming at when he shot a cop?

The robbery was devastating. They filed a $20,000 homeowners insurance claim, including a DVD player, a stereo, a laptop, trading cards, and a leather NASCAR jacket with Barcia's hero, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s, number three on the back. The insurance company gave them $12,000. More disheartening than the financial loss, though, was the invasion itself. The day after the burglary, Barcia went to BrandsMart USA and spent $500 on surveillance cameras. He also bought a new front door, new French doors for the back, and got his father to screen in the patio. The sliding glass doors next to the kitchen, where the thieves had apparently entered ("shook sliding glass door loose," the police report reads), were to be the next project. For the wooden fence surrounding the yard, Barcia propped up tires and concrete blocks to impede entry through the only door. And he bought a gun. On August 5, Barcia purchased a Glock 40 mm for $500 from a friend who, he says, wanted the money for DJ equipment. The gun came with a case of bullets. Four days later he went to Aces Indoor Shooting Range and Pro Gun Shop in west Miami and fired off a box.


Did they catch him?

Although he'd only lived in Cutler Ridge a short time, Barcia believed he knew who was behind the burglary. One evening, he confronted a couple of neighborhood children on the street. The children admitted to him that some of their friends were bragging about taking the exact amount of cash that was stolen from the Barcias' duplex. Barcia claims the children described his bedroom and told him that these same friends were now riding their bikes around the neighborhood sporting a leather jacket with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s number three on the back. It was the Goulds' Boys, the children confided to the now-angry Barcia.

Police describe the Goulds' Boys as a loosely knit gang that operates in southwest Miami-Dade. County police spokesman Pete Andreu says the gang is mostly involved in narcotics trafficking but will strike at "anything of convenience," meaning its members will burgle cars and houses if the opportunity arises. Andreu adds that the police don't know how many members are in the gang but that it comprises "young adults."

Cutler Ridge station has an anti-gang unit and works closely with neighborhood watch groups, church organizations, and afterschool programs in the 900-square-mile area for which it is responsible. Andreu says burglaries are down fifteen to twenty percent in the last year, in part due to this collaboration with the community.

As he believed the Goulds' Boys may have been responsible for the burglary, Barcia says he contacted a couple of detectives at the Miami-Dade Police Department. They were receptive, but Barcia says they told him there could be repercussions if Barcia formally accused his neighbors of taking part in the crime. "You live here," one of them reportedly said to Barcia. "You have to deal with your neighbors afterwards." Another detective reportedly added, "You're lucky it wasn't a home invader. They usually come in here and gag you up." Barcia heeded the warning; he didn't press the issue with the police. The new doors, the cameras, and the gun should be enough, he thought.

But Barcia's problems continued. During a barbecue, thieves stole a car radio from his friend and sometime tenant, Fernando Rene Rebustillo, while the vehicle was parked in front of the house. And late one night, Barcia heard a noise in the back yard. He grabbed his gun but by the time he got back there, he found no one. Barcia says the intruders pulled a plug from the back of one of the surveillance cameras, which Barcia hadn't been able to set up. In Barcia's mind, it was only a matter of time: The Goulds' Boys were coming for him and his wife. "They're going to invade my house," he would say later about the men on his patio. "They're going to come in here. They're going to rape my wife and they're going to kill us. That's the only thing that was in my mind."

On the night of the shooting, Barcia says, he got a ride home from one of his co-workers. The two arrived in Cutler Ridge near 6:30 p.m. An hour later Barcia drove alone to meet this same colleague and several others at Tamiami Park to practice for the "Air It Out" flag football tournament. They played among themselves before challenging a group of teens. The teens walloped them; then the park turned off the lights and they all headed home.

Barcia got home just after 10:00 p.m. He went into the bedroom, where his wife had left him a gift, an Xbox, she'd bought for him that night. Since he knew the gift was coming he had borrowed an Earnhardt NASCAR game from one of his football buddies at the park. He hooked the Xbox up, sat on the edge of the bed in his sweaty football clothes, and joysticked the cars around the tight curves on his TV. Mercedes scolded him for not cleaning himself up first. They laughed and played a few rounds of NASCAR together. Barcia took a shower, hopped in bed, and caught the end of the Marlins game, then turned off the television. It was just after 11:30 p.m.

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