Vacationing FL Cop Murdered In Tragic Scene
The Miami Herald via YellowBrix
May 13, 2011
PONCE, Puerto Rico — Juan Leonardo Aviles Otero, a Miami-Dade police officer, former soldier, narcotics detective and father of newborn twin girls, died Thursday on the side of a road in a remote part of southern Puerto Rico.
Aviles, 34, was foundshot to death at 3:10 a.m. in the passenger seat of the 2009 Toyota Corolla he had rented while on a Mother’s Day visit to see his mom to try and convince her to move to Miami. His 21-year-old sister, Jazmin Plaza Otero, a single mom in a yellow tank top and shorts, was found on the driver’s side, face-down in the dirt.
Like her brother, she was shot in the face, chest and arms, according to news reports.
Lt. Angel Feliciano of the Ponce homicide unit said three envelopes with a white powdery substance were found in Aviles’ pocket. Another envelope, empty, was on the floor of the car; police have sent it to a lab for analysis.
“The contents had already been consumed,” Feliciano told reporters.
The brother and sister had been having drinks at Las Copitas, a rural dive sports bar in Villalba, near a mountain called Cerro Maravilla, some 55 miles south of the capital. The mountain is better known for the decades-long scandal that erupted there from a 1978 police ambush of two independence activists.
Police on Thursday were trying to determine whether Aviles was ambushed as well, or if he and his sister were already parked on the side of the road.
“This [killing] arose from a discussion they had had earlier at the place of business,” Police Superintendent Jose Figueroa Sancha told reporters. He hinted that there had been an earlier bar fight.
This screen grab from Univision23.com shows the scene where a Miami-Dade police officer was killed in Puerto Rico early Thursday morning.
“This goes to what we’ve been talking about the tolerance, or lack of tolerance, in these types of discussions, in these types of establishments.”
The bar remained closed most of the afternoon. When it reopened, nobody there wished to discuss the officer’s murder.
After a stint in the narcotics division of the Bayamon Police region in Puerto Rico, officer Aviles joined the Miami-Dade Police Department in late 2006 and was assigned first to Palmetto Bay and later to the Midwest District around Doral. He married fellow police officer Vanessa Marie Alvarez last year.
Having recently given birth to twin daughters, she was not on the trip with him.
One supervisor who worked with Aviles in the Midwest district described him as “a hard-working officer.”
“He was ambitious,” said a Miami-Dade supervisor who said he said he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. “He was very strict about following the rules, dotting his i’s, crossing his t’s. I doubt you’ll find anyone who had a knock about how he performed his job.”
Miami-Dade Police dispatched an investigator to Puerto Rico, and issued only a two-sentence announcement of the officer’s killing.
In Puerto Rico, relatives told El Nuevo Dia newspaper that Aviles’ slain sister recently broke off with a boyfriend who she lived with in Ponce, who had threatened her by telephone. Family members wonder whether Aviles was mistaken for a new boyfriend, since he was not well known in the neighborhood.