The months leading up to the shooting were difficult for Andrew Morello and his three companions in the van. Morello had been cutting classes at North Miami High School and had fallen so far behind in his schoolwork that his parents withdrew him from school before the end of the year. In October Morello was arrested after he and another friend were caught stealing a car. Because he was a juvenile, instead of receiving jail time, Morello was sentenced to participate in a community-service program.
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In January Morello's parents enrolled him in Yale School, a small private high school in North Miami, and after that, they say, his attitude toward school changed. He was attending classes regulalry, his grades had improved, and he began talking more and more about his future.
The Morellos moved to Miami fourteen years ago from New York for the blue skies, clean air, and a city with less crime. Morello's father owns a pawn shop at 130th Street and NW Seventh Avenue.
Two of the boys who accompanied Morello that night, Bjorn DiMaio, sixteen years old, and Anthony Vincent, seventeen, admit they had broken into cars before. DiMaio was arrested about eight months before the shooting for breaking into a car. He also told detectives he was once caught sneaking into a Broward amusement park. Just before the shooting, DiMaio dropped out of North Miami High School.
None of the boys, say friends and family members, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.