Surveillance video shows US Army Ranger was aggressor in Miccosukee casino shooting, prosecutors say
Fernando Duarte, 33, accused of repeatedly approaching men in parking lot
MIAMI – The shooting of a former U.S. Army Ranger in the parking lot of Miccosukee Resort & Gaming on Christmas Day was done in self-defense, prosecutors said in a close-out memo obtained by Local 10 News.
Kenin Bailey, 25, and Mikey Lenard, 25, were arrested on first-degree murder charges after the Dec. 25 shooting, but prosecutors said surveillance video from the casino and witness testimony prove that Fernando Duarte, 33, was the aggressor.
According to the memo, Duarte and his friend, Kenny Estevez, were escorted out of the casino that night after they called the other two men a racial slur at a poker table.
The dealer notified security after Duarte continued to swear, because the casino has a strict "no cursing" rule in the poker room and the dealer feared that Duarte's language would lead to a fight between the four men.
Prosecutors said Duarte and Estevez were polite to the security officers, but spent about 20 minutes leaving the casino, cashing out and using the restroom, and complained that they were being forced to leave but the other two men were not.
Surveillance video from the casino's parking lot show Duarte and Estevez getting into their cars just under a minute before Bailey and Lenard tried to leave the casino.
Prosecutors said Duarte sat in his car for about 30 seconds, then got out and approached Bailey and Lenard.
The video shows Duarte moving his hands to his waist area and to his stomach. Prosecutors said it's unclear what words were exchanged between the men.
Prosecutors said Estevez went to his car and blocked Bailey and Lenard's vehicle from leaving the parking lot after Duarte pulled up alongside them. Prosecutors said Duarte got out of his car and made a hand gesture with his fingers, simulating a gun.
Lenard told detectives that Duarte told them, "I am going to (expletive) you up and kill you."
Bailey and Lenard did not get out of their vehicle, but reversed and tried to leave from the north exit of the parking lot, the memo said.
Video shows Duarte pulling his car in front of Estevez's and following the other men for a brief time before he starts driving parallel to them in the parking aisle next to the victims.
Prosecutors said Bailey took out his gun, which was legally purchased, at that point because the men feared for their lives.
Prosecutors said both vehicles stopped and Duarte narrowly escaped hitting the victims' car.
According to the memo, Lenard tried to move forward around Duarte, but Duarte cut off his car.
Prosecutors said Lenard opened his driver's side door and yelled at Duarte to move forward and leave.
But Duarte got out of his car and started heading toward Lenard's car, the memo said.
Lenard put his car in reverse and began driving backward quickly, but Duarte ran toward his vehicle, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Lenard fired 13 times at Duarte and Estevez, who had also gotten out of his vehicle.
Duarte was shot twice and died at Kendall Regional Medical Center.
Preliminary toxicology results showed that Duarte had alcohol and cocaine in his blood.
Prosecutors said Duarte was previously diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered a leg injury while he was in the military.
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