Man arrested in connection with fatal shooting of 2 sisters near Liberty City

Drakar Smith, 20, one of several males believed to be involved in shooting

MIAMI – A 20-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in connection with the fatal shooting of two sisters near Miami's Liberty City neighborhood.

Another man and a woman were injured in the April 14 drive-by shooting.

"These two young women were innocent victims of the type of random violence my prosecutors and the Miami-Dade Police Homicide Task Force are committed to ending," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "I am grateful that the collaboration between the State Attorney's Northside Gun Initiative and the Miami-Dade Police Department Homicide Unit resulted in an arrest in this case. Though it will not bring back these two young sisters, it will bring the culprit to justice."

According to Miami-Dade police, at least one gunman riding in a car opened fire on a group gathered around a vehicle just after 1 a.m. at Northwest 19th Avenue and Northwest 60th Street just outside Liberty City.

Stephanie Telusme (left) and Joanna Telusme were killed early Sunday in a drive-by shooting.
Stephanie Telusme (left) and Joanna Telusme were killed early Sunday in a drive-by shooting.

Stephanie Telusme, 27, and Joanna Telusme, 23, of Broward County, who were visiting friends in the area, were pronounced dead at the scene. Paramedics took Robert Allen, 30, and Jennifer Charles, 24, to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

According to an arrest warrant, a Miami-Dade Police Department Northside District officer was patrolling the area and heard multiple gunshots ring out.

The officer then saw a gray 2019 Toyota Camry driving away from the scene.

Police said the officer attempted to pull over the car, but the driver refused to stop.

The car eventually came to an abrupt stop in the 2200 block of Northwest 66th Street and four males got out and ran away, the warrant stated.

Police said the officer saw two AK-47s and a semi-automatic pistol inside the Camry. The pistol was later determined to be a 9 mm Glock with an extended magazine.

Police said a perimeter was set up and Drakar Smith was taken into custody after he was found hiding under a tarp behind a home.

Police said Smith was photographed and processed for gunshot residue on his hands at the scene.

According to the warrant, an autopsy was conducted on the sisters on April 15, at which time a .45-caliber projectile was removed from Stephanie Telusme and a 9-mm projectile and possibly a 7.62x39 mm projectile was removed from Joanna Telusme. 

Forensic detectives determined that the 9 mm projectile could have been fired from the Glock that was recovered from the Camry.

According to the warrant, Smith's hands tested positive for primer residue particles and his fingerprints were found on the outside of the Camry.

Police said he was also seen in a video posted on social media wearing a red bandanna that was recovered from inside the car and holding a gun similar to one of the guns confiscated after the shooting.

Authorities said one video also shows Smith wearing the same red sweater he was wearing when he was first apprehended by police after the shooting.

Smith is charged with one count of second-degree felony murder, one count of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

He is being held in jail without bond. 

"Senseless gun violence in Miami-Dade County will not be tolerated," Miami-Dade Police Director Juan J. Perez said in a statement. "I'm thankful that the combined efforts of our task force and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office can assist in bringing those responsible for these tragic deaths to justice."

A motive for the shooting remains unclear and police are still searching for others involved in the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

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