A Shot in the Dark

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

Outside, the neighborhood was quiet. After the Marlins game, Barcia's sometime houseguest, Rebustillo, went outside to have a cigarette. Rebustillo's pregnant girlfriend, Racquel Hart, and their four-year-old son lived with the Barcias. Rebustillo visited about two nights a week while the couple tried to sort out their relationship problems.

At the front steps was the neighbor, David Lee, the same man who would later testify to seeing the three officers at Barcia's front door. These two men frequently caught up with each other in smoker's exile. They talked about the Marlins game in hushed voices. Lee finished his cigarette and went inside. Rebustillo says he did the same.

When the banging started outside near 12:41 a.m., Barcia's first thought was that it might be Rebustillo, who locked himself out sometimes when he smoked. There was friction between the two. Rebustillo was erratic. He'd plowed through several jobs selling cars and sometimes was late paying the $300 rent he owed Barcia. Rebustillo's past also troubled Barcia. Rebustillo was on probation for a rental scam -- a third-degree felony -- and had had two prior run-ins with the law for fraud. That night Barcia was angry that Rebustillo hadn't shown up for flag football. Rebustillo often tried to minimize the tension by playing inane practical jokes on his friend. The night of the shooting, Rebustillo says, he took his wax pen from the car dealership, used for writing prices on windshields, and wrote "KKK" and "Satan is here" on the back of Barcia's Cherokee. He also put a swastika on an interior door so Barcia would see it when he woke up.

Rebustillo says he went into the house shortly after midnight and climbed into bed with Hart. As he was drifting to sleep, the banging startled him. Rebustillo claims he didn't know what the sound was or where it was coming from. When the shooting started, Rebustillo says he ran for his son, who was in another bedroom, and carried him to his mother. The screaming and crying had begun. At 12:44 p.m., Rebustillo called 911 from Hart's cellular phone.

Operator:Okay, what's the problem? Tell me exactly what happened.

Rebustillo:I don't know, I heard gunshots. Please sir (unintelligible)

Operator:Okay, you gotta help me here.

Rebustillo:1-1-9-4-1 Southwest. Baby, relax (to Hart). I don't know what's going on.

Operator:What else did you hear?

Rebustillo:I just heard gunshots. Get down. Get down (to Hart)!

Operator:Okay.

Rebustillo:Get down, baby (to Hart). Hello?

Operator:Yes, I'm here. Okay, stay on the line with me. What is your name, sir?

Mercedes was on the phone with emergency services at the same time.

Mercedes:They just woke us up.

Operator:I know.

Mercedes:They were really slamming the door in the back. [pause]

Operator:Stay on the phone with me. Mercedes:Yes. Operator:You don't have any weapons, do you?

Mercedes:My husband. He has a gun.

Operator:He had a gun. And what did he do with the gun?

Mercedes:[crying] He fired it through the window.

Operator:Your husband fired the gun through the window?

Mercedes:Yes.

Operator:Stay on the phone with me. I have the police on the way.

Mercedes:Okay.

Operator:He fired it through the window?

Mercedes:Through the sliding, through the French door window. [pause; crying] Okay, the cops are here.

Operator:Tell your husband to put the gun down.

Mercedes:Yeah, he has.

Operator:Is he talking to the police now?

Mercedes:He took the clip off. It's on top of the table.

Operator:Alright, is he talking with the police now?

Mercedes:No, no. He's right next to me.

At approximately 12:51 a.m., Barcia spoke on the phone.

Operator:Yes, sir.

Barcia:How you doin' ma'am?

Operator:I'm good. How are you?

Barcia:Not too good. We've had a break-in. We've had stuff stolen before outside the front of the house.

Operator:Right.

Barcia:So, I'm sleeping. I'm just trying to get some sleep, and I hear pounding like they're kicking the back door in.

Operator:Right.

Barcia:And I see a flashlight in the back at the same time. I go, 'What the hell is going on here?' So I reach for my gun. I go, I go out my bedroom door, and I see these guys trying to kick my door down. So I go, I scare them, and they're still kicking, trying to kick the door down.

Operator:Do you have any description? So when you fired the shot you actually hit someone? Is there somebody

Barcia:I shot towards outside just to hit the glass to scare 'em like at an angle but I guess I hit one of the guys because there was two of them. One of them with a yellow shirt and one in a white shirt. And one of the guys hit the floor. And then the other guy kept like coming at me, and I don't know if he fired something at me

Operator:Well, the only reason I'm asking is 'cause if there's somebody shot in your back yard we need to get somebody out there

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