The Murder of Master Do

Ten murders and Haitian gangs roil the quiet town of North Miami.

But so far, police haven't linked any of the killings. The city ended 2007 with 10 homicides — six in the final two months of the year. "We're concerned, definitely," says North Miami Police Chief Clint Shannon. "Some of these cases were not random acts."

Though Shannon says it's a stretch to call Do's killing the product of a gang execution, that's not completely clear. Sources close to the investigation say the murder weapon was an M-1 military rifle, a half-century-old gun that was one of the first semiautomatics manufactured. They are mostly collectibles now, though they were the weapon of choice for the Haitian army in the Nineties.

Indeed Haitian gang activity — and police crackdowns on those thugs throughout Dade County — had bubbled up in North Miami, possibly because enforcement had been stepped up in Little Haiti and other parts of the county. And it was perhaps no coincidence that North Miami's bloodiest two months in memory came immediately after the October indictment and arrests of the two Terrorist Boys leaders and 15 other gang members.

Do (right) with Peter Cruz, one of his first students, who is now a North Miami Police sergeant.
Courtesy of the Do family
Do (right) with Peter Cruz, one of his first students, who is now a North Miami Police sergeant.

Sergeant Croye won't speculate why Do was killed. "We can't confirm that this was a robbery gone bad," he says. "We know that nothing was taken and that Mr. Prosper did not hear any words exchanged."

Though Do had no criminal record, no pending civil lawsuits, no legal troubles of any kind, his student George Oxar believes the killing might have been planned. "In my heart, I think the person who did this either knew him, was angry at him, or was paid to shoot him. That's the only thing that makes sense," he says. "There's no doubt in my mind that if the shooter had been within three or four feet of Master, the shooter would have been dead."

But Lucien Cayard, co-owner of a Haitian bakery located in the same strip mall as Do's studio, disagrees: "Master didn't have a beef with anybody. Everyone really liked him."

Maybe it was a random murder. Or it could be the bullets were meant for Leclerc, although the 62-year-old has no criminal record and says he "never had trouble with nobody."

Sergeant Cruz is now in charge of the department's violent crime unit. He thinks it's possible that Do might have angered some kids by telling them to leave the back parking lot. Or his brand of discipline perhaps didn't sit well with a student. "The culture in this county, the youth culture, they just have a lack of concern about life," Cruz says, shaking his head. "Master didn't even have the opportunity to defend himself. I don't know the reason why someone would want to kill him. That person who shot him would have been taken in with open arms into the school, to harness his anger."

The most difficult thing for students to grasp was the fact that Do, who seemed invincible, was unable to fight his attacker after a lifetime of teaching self-defense. Says Oxar: "Master always taught us that with respect to weapons, the closer you are, the better your chances. He trained you so you would have a chance. He taught people not to feel helpless. But for whatever reason, he didn't have that chance."

Ricky, meanwhile, is moving his father's business forward. He recently opened a satellite studio in Hallandale and is planning a May 17 martial arts exposition and memorial for Do at South Broward High School. He's also overseeing the opening of the North Miami Beach location later this year. Eventually the family will move out of the West Dixie Highway storefront and away from the bad memories of November 10, 2007.

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