Police in a south Florida town are pursuing hate crime charges for three men who allegedly bludgeoned to death an 18-year-old Latino man.
David Harris, 19, his brother Jesse Harris, 18, and a third man, Austin Taggart, 19, have already been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Onesimo Marcelino Lopez-Ramos 10 days ago. The men are all from Jupiter, a coastal town about an hour and a half north of Miami.
"The suspects went to that neighborhood targeting people from the Hispanic community," Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow said at a news conference, according to the Palm Beach Post.
An arrest report states that Jesse Harris told police he went to the victim’s neighborhood "to rob Guatemalans." If convicted, the three men could be sentenced to death.
The Sun-Sentinel reported the attack on Lopez-Ramos occurred in the early morning hours of April 18, when a group of six to 10 people approached Lopez-Ramos and several other acquaintances on a street in Jupiter. A fight that broke out led to Lopez-Ramos being hit on the head with a blunt object and dying on the scene.
The attackers fled the scene before police arrived.
Police reports indicate that a "bloody white rock" was found in the front yard of the single-story home where Lopez-Ramos lived and near where police found him unconscious. Lopez-Ramos was on his way home from work when he was killed.
"(Lopez-Ramos) was definitely killed by a blunt object. We are not saying what it was," Jupiter Police spokesman Adam Brown said.
Police were quiet on how they were able to track down the three suspects, but said that David and Jesse Harris were found in a vehicle on Friday and Taggart also was in Jupiter.
Police said that the cooperation of the Guatemalan community helped them make the arrests so quickly.
"It was a very deliberate and meticulous investigation. The neighbors in that area were a tremendous help," said Major Amy Walling, the leader of the police investigation.