Home invasions may be linked

2 families held at gunpoint

SOUTH FLORIDA – Police in two communities are on the hunt for suspects involved in two separate home invasions that happened within two weeks in Miami Shores and El Portal.

The Ortiz family recounted the terrifying moments spent staring at the barrel of a gun, forced to wonder if their next breath would be their last on in Miami Shores on Aug. 13.

For Alejandro Ortiz, it all started when he was on his cell phone down the street from his home at 319 NE 101st Street..

"Two guys jumped out of the tree, guns drawn, and put both guns behind my back," Ortiz said. "I had to unlock the door, but I had two guns at my back at that point."

When the men gained entry into the home, they continued the torment.

"They held my wife up at gunpoint on the floor in the living room," Ortiz said.

While one robber pointed his gun at the wife, the other walked around the home, swiping an iPad, laptop, two purses and $85 in cash.

The suspects ordered Ortiz to lay on the ground and count to 30 as they fled.

Another home invasion that occurred in the neighboring community of El Portal was the most extreme of cases.

Village managers told Local 10 that gunmen stormed a man who was feeding his cat outside, forcing him inside his home. The men held the man and his wife hostage, at gunpoint, with pillow cases over their heads for up to three hours while stealing the family's bank account information.

It is rare that there have been two home invasion robberies within two weeks of each other. Miami Shores police believe the same men may be responsible for both home invasions and another robbery that occurred in a couple's driveway.

Chris Forment said his parents were in their driveway on the evening of Aug. 18, having just come from a party, when two guys ran to the car, opened the doors and put guns to the couple's heads.

"They came and they flanked them on both sides," said Forment. "(They) took my mom's purse. I assume they were waiting for my parents."

Once the suspects got the property, they instructed the man and his wife not to look back for 30 seconds.

The unnerving events have violated the one place everyone wants to feel safe -- at home.

Word has spread quickly of the invasions and residents in the community have been told to be vigilant.

In two of the cases, victims described the suspects as 2 thing build, black males, approximately in their 20s, wearing dark hoodies.

"I just found out from my neighbor across the street, so (it's) just a matter of time before the word spreads like cancer, and all neighbors will be looking, and these guys will get caught," said one neighbor. " They better be careful because we will all be on the lookout for them."

According to officials, the incidents have three things in common:

  • It happened late at night
  • The robbers smashed the cell phones
  • The robbers told the victims not to look back

A community meeting will be held Wednesday at the El Portal Police Department at 6:30 p.m.