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Saturday, 19 April 2008

Rashawn and Deon Beneby Someone mowed down the brothers, some 15 yards apart, on a grassy strip

''They may have been into drugs but they didn't do anything to harm anybody,'' said their aunt, Cheryl Watkins. ``It was cold-blooded murder to lay them out like that.''Miami-Dade County's 80th and 81st homicides of 2008: Rashawn and Deon Beneby, brothers and suspects in a string of violent robberies, shot dead Thursday afternoon next to the Liberty City middle school they once attended.
''It's cold-blooded, outright killing out there -- and we're not even in the summer yet,'' said the Rev. Richard Dunn, a community activist who lives three blocks away.
Witnesses said a group of men were gathered outside an apartment at the Annie Coleman Gardens housing project when the shooting started.Someone mowed down the brothers, some 15 yards apart, on a grassy strip next to the chain-link fence that separates the community from the baseball field at Charles R. Drew Middle School, 1801 NW 60th St. Rashawn was executed -- shot in the head and torso -- under a clothesline. Tank tops, pink blankets, black jerseys, swayed in the breeze above his corpse. Blood spattered the line's metal pole.Deon, some witnesses said, was killed as he ran away.As Charles Drew students were locked inside their classrooms, assault-rifle toting officers searched the housing project, commonly known as PSU, 6051 NW 19th Ave. A police helicopter scoured from above.
Investigators were not sure how many gunmen were involved; none was immediately found, Miami-Dade police said. Rattled students at Charles Drew Middle and nearby Charles R. Drew Elementary were released to parents hours later.
''There was no threat to any of the students at the school,'' said Miami-Dade Detective Robert Williams, a spokesman.The brothers' deaths underscore what has been an intense year for homicide detectives across Miami-Dade. Before the Benebys' deaths, 79 homicides since Jan. 1 had been recorded with the six police departments in Miami-Dade that investigate unnatural deaths. There have also been a string of multiple-death shootings.
• On March 28, two brothers, Dion Coppet, 21, and Danzel Coppet, 17, were shot and killed during a botched robbery at a gas station near the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition near Sweetwater.
• On March 15, three men leaving the Take One Lounge strip club were killed in a drive-by shooting on Northwest 79th Street and 22nd Avenue.
• On Feb. 24, two men sitting in a blue Monte Carlo were shot dead in Miami Gardens in another drive-by shooting. Two other men were wounded.
Of the 81 homicides, including the Benebys, 37 of those were black men ages 35 or younger, according to county records.''It lies in the lap of the black community,'' Dunn said. ``We've got to stop glamorizing the hip-hop gangster rap, the bling-bling atmosphere of drugs sales and distribution and usage.''The Benebys had certainly come to the attention of police for their involvement in drugs and violence.
They grew up with their six brothers and sisters in the PSU projects. Deon Beneby played little league baseball.In 1997, as a fourth-grade Little League shortstop, he attended a town hall meeting on the poor condition of parks. ''It makes me ashamed -- sad,'' he told then-Miami Mayor Joe Carollo.
Their mother had died of AIDS, family members said. Their father later died, too.
By adulthood, they had run up arrest after arrest: marijuana possession, selling cocaine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.In December 2006, Rashawn Beneby, sister Tiffany Beneby, and her 3-year-old son were shot in the same housing project. Tiffany and her son received wounds to the ankles; Rashawn was shot in the left arm.On April 4, Anthony Morris Beaubrun, 21, and Lusteveus Dessaint, 18, friends of the two brothers, were fatally shot in a parking lot across the street from where the Benebys died. Stuffed teddy bears, placed as memorials, still decorated the pavement and grass.Another pal, Darnell Parker, 22, was shot and killed at the Studio A nightclub Monday morning in downtown Miami.Meanwhile, Miami and Miami-Dade police had already begun looking at the Benebys as suspects in several recent killings.Detectives say they think Rashawn, 22, Deon, 21, and brother Demetrius Beneby, 18, with handguns, had been robbing people of jewelry and money in drive-through lanes at fast-food eateries in North Miami-Dade.They were, police say, in a gray Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Rodney McDuffie, 24, who is currently in jail on an armed robbery charge. They had been pawning jewelry at the USA Flea Market on Northwest 79th Street and 32nd Avenue, Miami-Dade detectives believe.Demetrius Beneby, 18, was being questioned by Miami-Dade homicide detectives on Thursday evening.He and Deon Beneby had been free from jail on bond after March arrests on charges of grand theft and drug possession.


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