A Shot in the Dark

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

WEB EXTRA DOCUMENTS AT END OF STORY

Mario Barcia turned the television set off just after the Marlins won game five of the World Series. He'd been playing flag football with his friends that night, and he had a long day ahead of him. He was tired but happy. Barcia is a clerk at Miami-Dade County Family Court in downtown. His wife, Mercedes, works at the Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM). The two often commuted together from their small one-story Cutler Ridge duplex, and the next morning they had to get up at 5:30 a.m. to beat the rush hour traffic.

The 25-year-old Barcia awoke that night to the sound of something banging. He reached to his nightstand and looked at his pager. The indigo digital display read 12:41 a.m. The banging continued, but he couldn't tell if it was coming from the back or the front of the house, and he didn't hear any voices. He was groggy, startled, and when he saw lights dancing around his back yard through his bedroom window, he became afraid. Growing up in Miami had worn on Barcia's nerves. His home had been burglarized in August while he and his wife were at work. On two previous occasions, robbers had tried to force their way into homes where he was living. It was a pattern that had driven him to buy a gun, a Glock 40mm, the day after the August break-in. After seeing the lights in his back yard, he scrambled for a pair of shorts, grabbed the Glock that he kept on his nightstand, and told his wife, "Wake up. Wake up. Somebody's trying to break in." Mercedes barely lifted her head.

Jonathan Postal
click here 
to enlarge
click here to enlarge
Barcia and his wife Mercedes next to one of the bullet 
holes from their October confrontation with police
Jonathan Postal
Barcia and his wife Mercedes next to one of the bullet holes from their October confrontation with police
A police photo shows Ofcr. Wever as he appeared the 
night of the shooting
A police photo shows Ofcr. Wever as he appeared the night of the shooting
Barcia's lawyer Ron Lowy says his client was trying to 
protect his home, his family
Jonathan Postal
Barcia's lawyer Ron Lowy says his client was trying to protect his home, his family
Barcia's next-door neighbor, David Lee, says he never 
heard any of the police identify themselves as law 
enforcement prior to the shooting
Jonathan Postal
Barcia's next-door neighbor, David Lee, says he never heard any of the police identify themselves as law enforcement prior to the shooting

What happened next changed Barcia's life forever. He unlocked his bedroom door and walked down the hallway toward the front door. He was glancing to his right to see if someone was there when he caught sight of a light and two men on his back patio, to his left. Barcia approached the door, noticing that one of the men was wearing a yellow shirt. Barcia says Yellow Shirt was shaking the French doors that led into the living room with one hand and carrying what looked like a shotgun in the other. Barcia's eyes widened as he moved within inches of the doors. The light was shining in Barcia's face, but he knew Yellow Shirt and his partner were still there on the patio, trying to break into his house. Barcia was terrified. Without saying a word he raised his gun and fired several shots to his right to scare the men away.

Glass shattered. Then there was silence. Barcia didn't see anything, so he decided the move had worked. He took a few steps backward, released the clip from the Glock, and put both the gun and the clip on the dining room table next to him. (The gun has no safety, so Barcia likes to remove live rounds from the chamber.)

Then came the return fire.

Glass shattered all around him, a bullet grazed his shoulder, and Barcia reached for the Glock again. He quickly put the clip back in and shot back several times, now aiming where he thought the men might be.

After the ringing in his ears faded he heard screaming and chaos in his house from his wife and his tenants, and moaning in his back yard. The French doors were in shards. Barcia was covered in his own blood from the glass shattering over him. Bullets had torn through the walls and a hallway closet, piercing Mercedes's wedding dress and one of Barcia's suitcoats. Barcia held the gun tightly and stepped backward again. He reached the hallway where Mercedes appeared, frantic and crying. "Call 9-1-1!" he yelled to her. He was in shock. He paced the house, while a trembling Mercedes told the 911 operator that her husband had fired his gun out the window at some intruders. Seconds passed. Then Mercedes turned to her bloodied husband to give him some startling news: "The lady says that they think you shot a police officer."


Officer down!

In police jargon "315" means an officer needs immediate assistance. It's the highest alert, the DefCon 1 of police emergencies. In the early morning hours of October 24, "315" was streaming across the airwaves in Cutler Ridge.

"OFFICER DOWN! OFFICER DOWN! 3-15 in the back yard!" Sgt. David Dominguez yelled to police dispatch. "All units! We need everybody down here!"

"All units 3-15," the dispatcher repeated in a steady voice. "2-0-8 Terrace Southwest 119th Place. All units take a 3-15 to 2-0-8 Terrace 119th Place. Officer down."

The time was 12:43 a.m.

Dominguez had been there from the beginning. He, along with Ofcr. Thomas Wever, were on burglary detail that night -- sniffing around areas stricken by auto theft and car break-ins. At 12:33 a.m. the two were driving down SW 208th Street when they felt something strike their cruiser. Wever, who was driving, later testified that he saw something out of the corner of his eye before hearing a thud on the passenger side of the car. The two, who were dressed in civilian clothes, backed up and spotted a softball-size rock in the street. They drove around the block to SW 208 Terrace -- the block where Barcia lives -- parked their car and called for backup. "We're going to be checking some yards," one of them told the radio dispatcher at 12:34 a.m.

Dominguez returned on foot to the spot where the rock was. There he met up with Ofcrs. Kevin Thelwell, Chad Murphy, and Emilio Cabrera. All three had responded to the call for backup, and all three were wearing the standard-issue beige tops and brown pant uniforms of the Miami-Dade police. Dominguez sent Thelwell and Cabrera to the front of the block on SW 208th Terrace to assist Wever.

The plan, they decided, was to line up the rock with the backs of the houses so they could make a rough calculation as to where the rock may have come from, then confront the owner of the house. It was a shaky plan, Wever would admit later in court. Since they didn't really see the rock hit the vehicle, they had no way of knowing its trajectory.

The block of SW 208th Street where the rock lay has a three- to four-foot-high concrete wall on one side that runs along the back of all the houses that face SW 208th Terrace. Some of the houses, including Barcia's, have higher wooden fences inside the wall to discourage potential intruders. In order to see over the additional fences, Murphy and Dominguez hopped on the wall and walked along the top of the concrete surface until they reached the point parallel to where the rock was. Murphy signaled Wever, Cabrera, and Thelwell -- who were now on Barcia's front lawn -- with his flashlight and told them on the side-channel radio that he had drawn even with the rock.

In the back of the house Murphy and Dominguez noticed what Dominguez later described as "a fresh footprint" on the top of a doghouse in Barcia's back yard. They thought that someone might have been able to stand on the igloo-shaped doghouse, see over Barcia's seven-foot-high wooden fence and the wall, and throw a rock. Believing the suspect or suspects were still in the vicinity, Murphy and Dominguez jumped into the yard and began searching the area with their flashlights.

At close to 12:41 a.m., Wever, Thelwell, and Cabrera approached the house from the front. In the driveway was Barcia's beige Jeep Cherokee; on the back window of the car the officers noticed "KKK" and "Satan is here" written in white lettering. Wever went to the front door and started pounding on it with the fleshy part of his closed fist. He says that all three announced they were police officers. "Open up! Miami-Dade police," they claim to have repeated. Murphy and Dominguez -- who were still in the back yard -- say they heard the men in front as well. Murphy, however, admitted later that neither he nor Dominguez announced themselves as police officers even as they scoped out the area with their flashlights. And Dominguez can't remember if he had his flashlight on the whole time.

Barcia's next-door neighbor, David Lee, heard the commotion and went to his front door. Lee, a giant Jamaican man with a beard and a gentle demeanor, looked out his peephole before opening his door: Wever was at Barcia's door, Thelwell at the front of the Cherokee in the driveway, and Cabrera to the side of the Jeep. Cabrera asked Lee if any teenagers lived in the house. Lee answered no. Then Thelwell asked him to go back inside his house. The exchange lasted no more than 30 seconds, Lee estimates. Lee went into his home, and the pounding at the door continued outside. Lee says he never heard any of the men say they were police officers.

Several other neighbors told detectives they didn't hear the police announce themselves either. And although there were now four police cars in the area, none of them had their lights flashing and none was parked in front of Barcia's house. Both Wever and Cabrera say that while they were knocking they saw someone inside the house. Cabrera says he saw that someone look out the window. Neither could give a clear description of the person. They say they continued knocking, while Thelwell asked dispatch to call Barcia's house and ask the residents to step outside. Dispatch didn't have time to make the call before the shooting occurred.

In the meantime, Dominguez and Murphy searched the back yard. Murphy wielded an eight-inch-long black Stinger XT flashlight and Dominguez a smaller Streamlight Thelwell had loaned him. They checked the doghouse where they'd seen the footprints. Nobody. Then they checked a woodshed and found it littered with old tools. "We made our way to the patio area," Dominguez later testified. The door to the screened-in patio was unlocked and open.

"It was open ... We tried to see if we could see somebody inside the house ... I never tried any doors." Dominguez says he got close enough to the French doors, though, to see footprints resembling those on the doghouse. It was dark, but the oven light in the kitchen illuminated the area. "I was standing pretty much next to Officer Murphy, maybe a foot behind him to his left, and we looked -- simultaneously, we both looked up and that's when I saw the subject coming from the hallway in a low ready position with a handgun."

They both yelled "GUN!" and turned to run away as the firing began. Dominguez scrambled to the back yard through the grass. Murphy was still on the patio. Gathering himself, Dominguez turned and fired toward the house.

This was followed by return fire.

After the ringing in his ears stopped, Dominguez could see that Murphy had been hit. He got on the police radio and screamed "3-15! 3-15!"


Pin the tail on the donkey?

Prior to the shooting, Mario Barcia was no stranger to police. His wife's uncle is a policeman. For three years the short, burly man processed requests for marriage dissolution at the county clerk's office, often for law enforcement officers. His work had earned him praise from his colleagues, who say he is an unwavering friend and a supportive co-worker. "Even if he's eating lunch with his wife, he'll drop what he's doing [to help you]," says one colleague who didn't want to be identified but was one of more than a dozen from the clerk's office to show up in support of Barcia during his lengthy bond hearing, which began November 13. Barcia's evaluations also read well: "Mario is a team player"; "Mario is a talented individual with many skills to offer"; "Mr. Barcia contributes positively toward office morale."

Despite Barcia's good reputation with the county, his case has moved with a swiftness that might be expected for a constant offender who had killed an officer. State prosecutor Timothy VanderGiesen has charged Barcia with two counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, which could land him in jail for life. The charges say that Barcia had a "premeditated design to effect the death" of Dominguez and Murphy. Murphy suffered a bruise on his back; his flak jacket saved his life. Dominguez was not injured, aside from minor scrapes and bruises from crawling around the back yard. During Barcia's bond hearing, VanderGiesen alleged that Barcia was so distraught over the August break-in of his home that "he was ready to shoot someone" that night. The prosecutor said Barcia just snapped. "He was going to get payback," VanderGiesen said at the hearing. "He didn't care who it was." On that night, VanderGiesen said, it just so happened it was a cop.

Barcia, who says he thought he was defending his home and his life, was shocked to be treated like a criminal. After speaking to the 911 operator, Barcia slowly opened the door where a dozen officers were waiting. "Put your hands up!" they yelled as he stepped outside the house. "Walk to me! Walk to me!"

A policeman handcuffed Barcia, pushed him into the ground, and stuck a knee into the back of his neck. "You shot a fuckin' cop, you fuckin' asshole!" the policeman repeated over and over.

The officer lifted Barcia, then dragged him to a squad car, where he sat for several hours in the locked vehicle with the windows rolled up and the air conditioning off. During this time period, police did not charge him, read him his rights, or tell him what was happening. One approached only to ask for his signature on a form permitting the police to enter the house. Barcia consented because, he would say later, "I had nothing to hide." Barcia also told him, "I did not mean to shoot the cop. Is he okay? How is he?"

As the sky was turning an early morning purple, Det. Charles McCully drove Barcia to Miami-Dade Police headquarters on NW 92nd Avenue and NW 25th Street and sat him in a cold, windowless interrogation room with three chairs and a table. McCully is a 22-year force veteran and has been a homicide detective since 1988. He's a towering man who, when he testified at the bond hearing, looked like a tired union leader -- horn-rimmed glasses, disheveled hair, blue vintage Seventies sport coat. Armed with only a legal notepad and a pen, McCully spent five hours interviewing Barcia that morning before asking him if he wanted to give a formal statement. (A mix of police officers and detectives interviewed the others who were in the house when the shooting occurred, and a court reporter took their formal statements almost immediately.)

Barcia says McCully began patiently, asking him what he remembered about the incident. But soon this tone changed. McCully would leave the room periodically, becoming more agitated each time he returned. McCully then began asking about Barcia's gun and his past. Why do you carry your gun in your car? Have you applied to be a police officer before? Then the detective would get back to the case. Why did you look out the front window? Why are the officers identifying you as a person who looked out the front window? Barcia got worried, then frustrated. He says he offered to take a polygraph, but the detective replied, "We don't do that." After several hours of repeating his story and his offer to take a polygraph, Barcia exploded. "You're trying to dick me around," he says he told the detective. "You're trying to pin the tail on the donkey. I'm not your donkey. You guys fucked up. You guys came in my house, in my property. You guys fucked up, and you guys are trying to pin this shit on me. When this is all done with -- I'm not going to beat the ride, but I'm going to beat the trial -- I'm gonna sue your ass and everybody else across the way."

During the bond hearing, McCully sketched a psychological profile of an explosive assailant. McCully insisted, like VanderGiesen had, that Barcia had the propensity to just snap. "He ended up getting very, very agitated; very aggressive," the detective said about Barcia's demeanor during the five-hour interrogation. "He took his hands and smacked himself on the head; and took his hands and slammed his knuckles on the table. [He says,] 'I know what the fuck you guys are doing. I work at the clerk's office. I know how cops throw down guns. You guys are trying to frame me.'"

Barcia was worried because, among other things, he has a criminal record. In November 2000 Barcia took a blue Chevy pickup from a former colleague for a "joyride." The owner called the police, who caught up to Barcia on Dickens Avenue in Miami Beach. "Officer, this is a practical joke I'm playing on Ivan [Souto, the owner]. I was going to call him," Barcia reportedly told the police as he stepped out of the pickup with his hands in the air. Souto arrived and told the police that he didn't know Barcia well enough for pranks like this to make him laugh. Barcia pleaded no contest, got probation and, at the time of the shooting incident, was in the process of getting the arrest expunged from his record. "I made a mistake," Barcia insists today. "It was a joke; stupidity on my part."

During the bond hearing, McCully said that Barcia had a negative attitude toward police, which the detective related to Barcia's two failed attempts to become a law enforcement officer. In June 2000 Barcia applied to the Key West Police Department. According to Key West Sgt. Adam Bittinger, Barcia was disqualified from employment for failing a lie-detector test and showing "attitude toward police officers for giving him eight traffic tickets in the past three years." Barcia says he told McCully about the Key West application. He also says he admitted to Key West police that he'd lied about stealing boat equipment from the back of a pickup while he worked at Contender Boats in Homestead. He returned the pumps and no charges were filed. Barcia had also applied to be a Miami-Dade cop but didn't complete the lengthy application process because he didn't think the job paid enough for the risk involved.

After the five-hour interrogation, McCully asked if Barcia would give an oral statement. Barcia refused and asked for a lawyer.


Home invasions

Barcia was not known as a violent person, but he grew up in a turbulent household. His parents, Nancy Barcia and Mario, Sr., had Mario, Jr. when they were teens. His father is a handyman. His mother has always stayed at home. The pair had a confrontational relationship, marred by mutual accusations of philandering and drug abuse. Bad luck and economic difficulties forced the family to move from house to house. After their home was flattened by Hurricane Andrew, they rented a small one-story cottage in the City of North Miami. One night, while they were asleep, a man tried to break in. Barcia's father chased the intruder away, but Junior, who was thirteen at the time, was afraid. "What are you going to protect yourself with? A knife?" Barcia asked his father about the incident. The next day, Barcia's father bought a gun, a Ruger 9mm, and his son slept soundly again.

Still Barcia couldn't escape the turmoil. In 1998 Barcia's parents got an ugly divorce. They no longer speak. For a time afterward, Barcia lived in Countrywalk in the house his parents had abandoned following their breakup, so he could save money and help Mercedes pay for college. One night, while Barcia slept, someone tried to come through the back patio. Barcia heard the person fumbling around, then saw his hand as he tried to pry open the sliding glass doors. He yelled, and the person fled.

Following this second scare, Barcia decided he needed more protection. Using tax refund money, he went to the Southern Police Supply on NW Twentieth Avenue and NW Seventh Street and bought an H&K pistol. He was accustomed to weapons by then. In addition to his father's gun, Barcia had worked in the Sports Authority at the International Mall on NW 107th Avenue and NW 12th Street, where he was in charge of counting the gun stock each night at closing. After buying the H&K, Barcia went to the range, took a course in gun safety, and got a concealed weapon permit. He says the instructor was a former police officer who taught them to use the weapon "only as a last resort." For Barcia, the H&K was a trinket and, if need be, a means of protection. "I felt safer," he says of the gun. "I didn't think anything of it when I slept."

But Barcia wasn't obsessed by the gun. When money was tight before Christmas last year, Barcia pawned it for $250, then used the money to pay some bills. He was with Mercedes now. They'd been married in 2001. With the help of Mercedes's grandparents, the couple purchased the three-room duplex in Cutler Ridge. They painted the walls, bought new furniture, and got a widescreen TV to host the occasional Sunday football party. What's more, Mercedes was pregnant. It was beginning to feel like home until August 4, when Mercedes returned from work to find the place a mess and their belongings missing.

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.

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

Barcia: Well, there's cops already back there.

Operator:Oh, they're already in your back yard.

Barcia:Yeah. I don't know whether to open the door or not.

Operator:Well, they haven't told me that they're ready to speak with you yet.

Barcia:But did they catch somebody?

Operator:I don't know. I don't know.

Barcia:I don't know. I got scrapes. I don't know what, from the glass or from what. I don't know if they fired back at me or what.

Meanwhile the police were already taking positions outside. Cabrera and Thelwell were in front, hiding. Wever kicked his way through the wooden fence door and rendezvoused with Dominguez at the back of the yard. Dominguez was on the radio. Murphy was next to the shed struggling to breathe. He crawled to where Wever and Dominguez were crouching and the two hoisted him over the concrete wall. Then they followed. From behind the concrete wall they spied Barcia pacing his house and reported his movements over the police radio.

Dominguez:Advise units I got an eyeball. He's right in front of the front door [unintelligible].

Dispatch:[unintelligible] advises he's [Barcia] right in front of the front door at 1-1-9-4-1 Southwest 2-0-8 Terrace. White male, no shirt

Dominguez:1300. I'm eyeballing the subject. He went back into the residence.

Dispatch:1300 advises he went back into the residence at 1-1-9-4-1 Southwest 2-0-8 Terrace. Requesting all units to a 3-15 to there. Subject's inside. A white male no shirt. He has a Glock 9 millimeter.

Dominguez:1300. He's walking back and forth to the front door. Have all units use extreme caution. He shot at uniformed officers already. He's opening the front door, ma'am.

Case pending

Preliminary ballistics results shown at the bond hearing illustrate that at least one bullet exited the right side of the French doors, as Barcia claims. However, prosecutors say the bullet's trajectory was straight, and not at an angle, as Barcia says it was when he fired the first warning shot. Barcia's lawyer, Ron Lowy, is obtaining an independent ballistics report.

The bond hearing lasted an astounding fifteen hours, during which Wever, Cabrera, and Murphy testified. Dominguez provided an affidavit, and Thelwell provided two formal statements. The officers' accounts matched; each emphasized they'd identified themselves several times before any shots were fired.

Barcia was released on bond after spending three weeks in Turner Guilford Knight Detention Center. He is suspended from his job at the county without pay until the case is resolved. But his co-workers have collected more than $1000 to help him and his wife. A trial date has not been set. In the meantime, he's working at a used car lot. He wears an ankle monitor and is only allowed to go to work or Mercedes's grandmother's house, where the couple is currently staying.

Mercedes's baby is due in June. They haven't returned to their home in Cutler Ridge and are putting it up for sale. Lowy, Barcia's lawyer, recently filed a motion to allow Barcia to go to church with his wife on Sundays.


Below is a full transcript of the 911 call placed by Mercedes Barcia

12:43 a.m. -- call begins:

Operator: Miami-Dade County Police and Fire.

Mercedes: Yes, there's people in the backyard and they [can't breathe]

Operator: Okay. Slow down. What's the address?

Mercedes: 1-1-9-4-1 Southwest 2-0-8 Terrace.

Operator: And there's people in the backyard?

Mercedes: Yes.

Operator: 1-1-9-4-1 2-0-8 Southwest Terrace.

Mercedes: Yes.

Operator: Do you know what they're trying to do back there?

Mercedes: They're trying to break into our [unintelligible]

Operator:I'm sorry?

Mercedes: They're trying to break into our, tapping into our window really hard. It woke us up

Operator: They're trying to break into what?

Mercedes: Through the back sliding glass door

Operator: Stay on the phone with me, okay? Hon', the police are on the way. What is the phone number you're calling from?

Mercedes: 3-0-5 9-7-1 19-44

Operator:What's your name?

Mercedes: Merci.

Operator: Merci?

Mercedes: Yes.

Operator: Okay. Stay on the phone with me. I have the police on the way, okay?

Mercedes: 1-1-9-4-1 Southwest

Operator: Southwest 2-0-8 Terrace. Can you give me a description of the person who's trying to break in?

Mercedes: [crying]

Operator: Merci?

Mercedes: Yes.

Operator: Stay on the phone until the police get there. Can you give me a description of the people that are trying to break in?

Mercedes: I have no idea. My husband told me when he got into the room.

Operator: How many people? Do you know?

Mercedes: I don't know.

Operator: Ask your husband. Did he see 'em?

Mercedes: He. There's a flashlight in the ground in the back. So he went; he won't let me go outside.

Operator: Okay. Stay on the phone with me. I have the police on the way. It might be the police. We have a lot of police officers out there in the area, okay? So I don't know yet. But they're going to let me know if it is or not.

Mercedes: 'Cause 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 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.

Operator: Okay. I need you to stay on the phone with me. Are the police at your door?

Mercedes: Ah, maybe. No, they went through the back. You can see the cars, the lights through he back.

[Voices audible in the background.]

Operator: Who's he [Barcia] talking to?

Mercedes: We have some other people staying with us here.

Operator: Oh, okay. [Voice audible in the background; Mercedes drops phone] Hello?

Mercedes: Yes, yes.

[pause; Barcia, "I don't know. I don't know. I opened the door..."]

Mercedes: Should he open the door?

Operator: Are the police at your house?

Mercedes: Are the police outside? [To Barcia, "They're outside?"]

Operator: Oh, wait. I'm going to tell you when the police get there to, you can step out.

Mercedes: Okay. [Barcia, "Two guys trying to break in our house..."]

Operator: Uh, ma'am?

Mercedes: Yes.

Operator: Do you know if, does your husband know if he hit anybody with the gun? With the, with the, um...

Mercedes: Did you hit anybody with the gun [to Barcia]?

Operator: I mean, with the, did he

Mercedes: He said he's sure he did because the guy hit the floor.

Operator: Okay. [pause] Ma'am, we think you shot, we think your husband shot a police officer.

Mercedes: The lady says they think that you shot a police officer [to Barcia]. [Barcia, "No, it wasn't a police officer. It was a guy breaking in the house."] He says it was a guy breaking in the house.

Operator: Oh, the guy your husband shot was the guy breaking in the house?

Mercedes: [crying] Yes.

Operator: Okay. Just continue to stay in the phone with me, I'm going to let you know. He did put the gun up, right?

Mercedes: Yes. Yes, the gun is on top of the table. The clip is out.

Operator: Alright. Just stay on the phone with me until

Mercedes: She says to wait until, she'll let me know when to open the door [to Barcia]

Operator: Yeah, do not go out. Don't make any sudden moves because we have a lot of police officers in that area.

Mercedes: We have a friend [unintelligible] and she's crying.

Operator: I'm sorry? Say that again.

Mercedes: We have a friend, that woman [Hart], and she's crying.

Operator: Well, tell everybody to just calm down. I want you to continue to stay on the phone with me until the police get there and you can step out and speak with them.

Mercedes: [unintelligible, talking to someone else; crying] I'm imagining if it would have been a police officer, they would have been knocking on the front door and not on the back door of my house.

Operator: Well

Mercedes: Hard and very hard.

Operator: Alright. Just continue to stay on the phone with me.

Mercedes: [to someone else, "Calm down."] They're outside.

Operator: Hello.

Mercedes: Yes. [pause; to Barcia, "I just heard banging ... No, I'm fine. I'm fine."]

Operator: Hello?

Mercedes: Yes.

Operator: Okay. Just continue to stay on the phone with me until they tell me to tell you to have you or your husband step out and speak with them, okay?

Mercedes: [talking to someone else, "I heard that. They were knocking so hard on the back window ... I was like, they were slamming on the door very hard...]

Operator: Yes, ma'am?

Mercedes: Yes.

Operator: Just continue to stay on the phone with me, okay?

Mercedes: Yes.

Operator: The police, they're working something in that area so they'll be, I'm just going to stay on the phone with you until they tell me when they're ready for you to step out, okay? [pause; Mercedes talking to someone else] and you can't give me, okay. So there is someone who's been shot in your backyard? Is that what you're telling me?

Mercedes: Hold on. Hold on.

Barcia: Hello.

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 'em, 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

Barcia: Well, there's cops already back there.

Operator: Oh, they're already in your back yard?

Barcia: Yeah. I don't know whether to open the door or not.

Operator: Well, they haven't told me that they're ready to speak with you yet.

Barcia: But did they catch somebody?

Operator: I don't know. I don't know.

Barcia: I don't know. I got scrapes. I don't know what, from the glass or from what. I don't know if they fired back at me or what. [pause] But they were trying, right in front of me.

Operator: I'm sorry hon'?

Barcia: They were right in front of me. There are [unintelligible] in the backyard.

Operator: They're in the backyard? Alright, I'm going to hang up. Let me just have your name and your phone number and I'll have the road supervisor give you a call.

Barcia: Okay. Mario Barcia. Okay my phone number is 3-0-5 9-7-1 19-44.

Operator: Okay. I'm going to have the road supervisor call you.

Barcia:Thank you.

Operator: Alright.

12:51 a.m. -- call ends.

12:44 a.m. -- call begins.

Operator: Miami-Dade County Police and Fire Rescue where is your emergency?

Rebustillo: [unintelligible] 9-4-1, please hurry up.

Operator: Okay. Say that again.

Rebustillo: 1-1-9-4-1 Southwest 2-0-8 Terrace. Hello?

Operator: Okay. I'm still here. 2-0-8 Terrace.

Rebustillo: Yes, please.

Operator: 1-1-9-2-1 Southwest 2-0-8 Terrace. is that an apartment or a house?

Rebustillo: [screaming] 1-1-9-4-1!

Operator: 1-1-9-2-0-1

Rebustillo: [screaming] 1-1-9-4-1!!!! Yeah? [crying audible in the background]

Operator: Okay, stay with me.

Rebustillo: Hello, please.

Operator: Yeah, stay with me. What's the phone number you're calling with, from?

Rebustillo: Uh, 3-0-5, uh 3-3-6 8-1-0-0.

Operator: 3-0-5 3-3-6 8-1-0-0. Okay, what's the problem? Tell me exactly what happened.

Rebustillo: I don't know, I heard gun shots. 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.

Rebustillo: Yes.

Operator: Okay, stay on the line with me. What's your name sir?

Rebustillo: My name, uh, my name is Fernando.

Operator: Okay. The police are already on the way. Okay, stay with me on the line.

Rebustillo: Okay.

Operator: You're going to tell me what's going

Rebustillo: I don't know what's going on.

Operator: Okay. Alright. We already sent police sir.

Rebustillo: Okay.

Operator: Okay, I'm going to hang up now. Thank you.

Rebustillo: [to someone else] Did you shoot somebody?

12:46 a.m. -- call ends.

You can read through the various statements by witnesses and other related deocuments to this story below:

Statement of Chad Murphy
Statement of David Dominguez
Statement of Fernando Rebustillo
Statement of Kevin Thelwell
Statement of Mercedes
Complaint Arrest Affidavit
Affidavit Bond Hearing
Additional Photos

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