Kristen Rosen Gonzalez Tried to Stop Cops From Arresting Donor | Miami New Times


Miami Beach Commissioner Tried to Stop Cops From Arresting Campaign Donor Accused of Machete Spree, Emails Show

Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who is running for U.S. Congress, sent the Miami Beach Police chief a flurry emails demanding a major donor to her campaign not be arrested for an alleged spree of machete destruction, according to text messages and emails New Times obtained this week.
City of Miami Beach / City Records
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Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who is running for U.S. Congress, sent the Miami Beach Police chief a flurry emails demanding a major donor to her campaign not be arrested for an alleged spree of machete destruction, according to text messages and emails New Times obtained this week.

Saturday, September 16, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Miami Beach-based arms dealer and shooting-range owner Erik Agazim strapped on a Kevlar vest and military helmet, hung an assault-style rifle from his body, and grabbed a machete. According to police, Agazim proceeded to slash 11 blaring fire alarms with his long knife, terrifying his Sunset Harbour neighbors. According to cops, power outages from the hurricane had caused the alarms to malfunction.

Destroying a fire-safety device is a felony, but before he was arrested, Agazim fired off a text message around 11:15 p.m. to Commissioner Rosen Gonzalez, who is running in the Democratic primary for the seat that will vacated by retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In May, Agazim had donated $2,700 to Rosen Gonzalez's congressional campaign — the maximum amount an individual may donate in a federal race.

Rosen Gonzalez was quickly spurred into action by the text from Agazim, who owns both an arms-supply business — the National Police Equipment Exchange — which sells guns to local police departments such as Miami Beach PD, and the Lock & Load shooting range in Wynwood. Using her city email address, she demanded that police stop investigating Agazim.

"Please confirm that he is not being pursued by anyone," Rosen Gonzalez wrote to Chief Dan Oates. "He has permits for everything he is carrying. Erik is a meticulous and upstanding businessman."

She also asked to sit in on a meeting between Agazim and the cops. In a separate email to Oates, she said she "would like to be present" at a police interview "if possible."

"That would be inappropriate," Oates replied.

Agazim was eventually charged with 11 felony counts of destroying fire-safety devices, one felony count of criminal mischief, and one misdemeanor count of openly carrying a rifle, suggesting that Rosen Gonazlez was incorrect in suggesting he had "permits for everything." His arraignment hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

Reached by phone, Rosen Gonzalez denied she'd done anything wrong and said the exchange showed her engaging in simple "constituent services." She said that after Agazim was arrested, she donated his $2,700 campaign contribution to "victims of the Las Vegas shooting."

"I had no reason to think he was anything other than a respectable, upstanding citizen," she said. "I don’t know the details of the case, but I had no reason to believe anything than what he told me."

(Rosen Gonzalez has previously said she believes public oversight hinders police from doing their jobs.)

She said she met Agazim when she was campaigning for city commission in 2015. Asked whether she was pulling strings for a friend and donor to her campaign, she steadfastly denied that's what was going on.

"I was not interfering in any way," she said. "I help people who donate and call me; I help people who don’t donate and call me. I give my cell-phone number out on my campaign literature, so everyone has it. People call me day and night."

According to the text thread, Agazim sent Rosen Gonzalez a photo of himself standing in the dark wearing his tactical gear and holding a long rifle at 11:15 p.m. that Saturday.

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via city documents
"Hi I apologize to bother you but [local resident Frank Kruszewski] is trying to have me arrested," Agazim wrote. "During the storm I put on my armor and rifle to go to Wynwood to protect my range from looters." He then explained that Kruszewski had taken a photo of him and sent it to the cops, but Agazim claimed everything he'd done that night had been legal despite the fact that he was photographed openly carrying a rifle in public. He made no mention of destroying any fire alarms, which Miami Beach Police say is confirmed on video.

"Is there anything you can do to assist?" he wrote. "I really do not enjoy being a fugitive for something I did not do."

Records show Rosen Gonzalez then fired off an email to Chief Oates at 4:21 Sunday morning.

"Last night I got an email from my friend Erik Agazim who owns Lock and Load, the machine gun range in Wynwood," she wrote to Oates. "He said Frank from Sunset Harbour sent the picture below to the MB police and now the police are looking for him? Frank knows full well that Erik was going to bother no one. Erik has permits for everything he was carrying."

She continued:

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via city documents
City Manager Jimmy Morales, who was cc'ed on the exchange, hopped into the discussion at 7:40 a.m. to make a joke.

"I want that guy in the bunker with me!" he wrote. "Chief, remember that we live in Florida, where the 2nd Amendment is the Bible."

Rosen Gonzalez responded seven minutes later with a smiley-face emoticon.
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via city documents
click to enlarge
via city documents
Eventually, Agazim wrote directly to Oates and Rosen Gonzalez from his work email address. He laid out a case why everything he did was legal and that he was instead being set up by his angry neighbors.

Agazim mentioned how closely he'd worked with the police department in the past:

Chief I don't believe  ever met but I've been the MBPD ammo vendor for 10 years, I am an alumni of the CPA, and I have been an associate member of the Dade Chiefs for almost a decade. And I have given the officer of the moth $1,00 in gift certificates ever moth. I don't do this for favors, I do this because I know how it is to be a cop and because 90% of my friends. [sic]
He then attached his rifle permits — which don't authorize him to openly carry a gun outside a home. Agazim then offered to set up a meeting with the police.

At 9:39 a.m., Oates thanked Agazim for offering to sit down. Oates then asked for Agazim's contact info. At this, Rosen Gonzalez jumped in.

"I would like to be present at this meeting if that's possible," she wrote. At this point, it seems Oates had had enough.

"Commissioner, that would be inappropriate," he responded. "I am sure Jimmy would agree."

click to enlarge
via city documents
click to enlarge
via city documents
Rosen Gonzalez later asked Oates to call her, but it's clear her efforts didn't keep Agazim out of custody — he was arrested September 22, and his case remains open. He has pleaded not guilty. (Agazim didn't immediately respond to an email from New Times this morning).

Speaking yesterday, Rosen Gonzalez said she was surprised when officers said they'd seen video footage of Agazim dressed in tactical gear and hacking away at the fire alarms She says she's kept quiet since the arrest.
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Erik Agazim
Miami-Dade County Department of Corrections
"Once the investigation took place, I have not gotten involved on any level," she said. "But all I was doing is trying to help people. That's what I do as a commissioner — I help people."
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