laborer, Alberto Gomez, 60, who had taken the part-time job just for the
day, was dead at the scene at the Royal Atlantic Condominium, an 11-story
building at 465 Ocean Dr.
Tenants and an attorney
involved in the eviction said Gomez and the officers had gone to Apartment
211, a 665-square-foot unit that had been at the center of a legal battle
between Joseph Richer, 44, and his father, Charles Richer, 76, of Aventura.
The son had been living in the
unit for years without paying, said M. Keith Marshall, an attorney for the
Marshall said Charles Richer
warned his son authorities would be coming this week to evict him.
The unit was sold at public
auction and an eviction notice was served on Oct. 26, records show.
On Monday morning, an eviction
team -- Gomez, a potential buyer, a Miami-Dade officer and a sergeant and
movers -- arrived sometime after 10 a.m.
Police knocked and announced
their intention, said Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Lt. Rosanna
There was no reply. Gomez took
out tools and began working on the lock.
The door burst open and the
man inside started firing. The shooter emptied his .357 revolver, said
John Rivera, president of the Police Benevolent Association, who had been
briefed on the shooting.
The bullets killed Gomez. An
officer returned fire, striking the shooter. The officer had minor eye
injuries and was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
One of the movers scrambled
from the scene, jumping down the front of the building to get away.
Witnesses reported seeing the
man fall into bushes flanking the condo.
Charles and Joseph Richer
bought the one-bedroom unit in 2001 for $135,000, but the father had
claimed in court that his son had not made payments since 2003.
Built in 1969, the building
benefitted from its prime location on Ocean Drive during the real estate
boom, with studio units bringing in $300,000 or more in 2005.
Five years later, the property
value had fallen substantially, and some of those same studio units were
valued at just over $120,000.
Five of the units in the
238-unit building are being foreclosed by the bank, according to
RealtyTrac, and several others have been targeted for foreclosure by the
The elder Richer went to court
and eventually bought out his son's portion and began the process of
evicting him to sell the property.
"His son had no visible
means of support,'' said Marshall. "He wasn't paying the condo
association fee, he wasn't paying the mortgage, and he wasn't paying the
taxes. And this had been going on for years.''
Later Monday, Marshall spoke
with Charles Richer, who the lawyer said was distraught and indicated his
son had been involved in the shooting.
The shooting caused a ruckus
in the popular Fifth Street area of South Beach during a tourists-filled
Officers from Miami Beach
and Miami-Dade converged on the scene, roping off a busy stretch of
Ocean Drive for hours on Monday.
People milled about at
yellow police tape, stopping to take pictures and ask what had happened.
Basia Simpson, 21, of
Chicago, was sitting at a a nearby deli when she suddenly heard about
eight to nine shots, saw one person jump to safety from a low floor of
She saw an officer running
toward the building with a high-powered weapon.
In the building, Emily Mack,
who lives on the floor of the shooting, said she heard about five shots.
"I've never heard
anything like that before,'' said Mack, 46. "We jumped up.''
She saw the man's body in
James Butt, 81, lives on the
floor above and heard several bumps but wasn't sure what the noise was.
He got a call and went downstairs. Officers in the hall, with guns out,
quickly ushered him back upstairs.
Butt said he had seen a
eviction notice on the apartment door about a week earlier.
He said he had seen the man
on the pool deck on Sunday night and the two had had a brief
As police investigated
Monday, distraught friends rushed to the waterfront condo building,
He came from Colombia about
40 years ago and had spent much of the time working in construction --
until Monday when he had gone to the building as part of a part time
"He was working,
working seven days a week,'' said friend Marcos Gonzalez, who owned the
construction company where Gomez had previously worked. "He'd make
a little money and send it home to Colombia. Very honest guy.''
Gomez could not return to
Colombia to visit family because of immigration problems, said Felix
Valera, a friend.
"It's been 40 years
since he'd seen his family. He couldn't go because he lacked papers,''
Gomez lived alone and spent
much of his time at Valera's house, often coming over to play dominoes.
"For somebody to do
this, they'd have to be some kind of demon,'' said Nancy Cortes, a
friend of Gomez's who rushed to the building when she heard the news.