SWEETWATER, Fla. – Two men have been arrested and face first-degree murder charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Florida International University honor student and freelance photographer Michael Zaldua.
Zaldua, 21, was fatally shot on Dec. 2, 2016, in an off-campus parking garage that is connected to the Fourth Street Commons apartment complex in Sweetwater.
Neighbors described him to Local 10 News as kind and courteous.
On Tuesday, the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle confirmed that Doneterio Rashad Fowler, 25, of Pinellas Park, and Keondre Quamar Fields, of St. Petersburg, had been arrested in Pinellas County in connection with the murder.
Fowler is the brother of Atlanta Falcons defensive end Dante Fowler, who played college football at the University of Florida.
According to prosecutors, Doneterio Fowler and Fields were also attending school in Miami-Dade County like Zaldua at the time of the killing.
Prosecutors said investigators found cash scattered around the victim’s body at the scene and also found a loaded Glock magazine near the victim’s body and a gun inside of his jacket pocket.
A large amount of blood was also at the crime scene, which a vehicle had driven through, leaving behind a clear tire impression, prosecutors said.
Police searched Zaldua’s car and said they found several large-size Ziploc bags containing suspected marijuana and a small bag of suspected cocaine.
Prosecutors didn’t confirm whether Zaldua’s murder was a drug deal gone bad, but said additional evidence was gathered after the killing which led them to charge Fowler and Fields with murder.
“When a loved one is killed and there is no arrest, the family tragedy only deepens as time passes and questions remain unanswered,” Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. “Hopefully, the arrests of the alleged perpetrators of this homicide will provide some solace to Michael Zaldua’s family in the knowledge that the Miami-Dade Police Department and my prosecutors never stopped searching for those responsible for his death.”