Young father killed during Cocoa home invasion was set up by friend, Cocoa detectives say
Suspects were attempting to steal trust fund money inside family's home
COCOA, Fla. – Almost two months after a young father was killed defending his family during a botched home invasion, Cocoa detectives have arrested one man they said set up his friend and are searching for two others.
Cocoa police detectives said four men, including two suspects still at large, attempted to steal part of the $55,000 in trust fund money being kept at the apartment, ultimately ending with one of the intruders and the intended victim of theft dead.
Cocoa police said Jaleen Malik Howard, 19, was shot just after 1:30 a.m. June 19. Howard's pregnant girlfriend, Brooke Cooper, was home with their 2-year-old daughter when she said Simon Jackson, 19, came over uninvited. Cooper called Howard, who was at Walmart, and he immediately came home, she told detectives.
Soon after, three men stormed his Peachtree Apartments residence, police said. Howard exchanged gunfire with the men in the stairwell as they ran toward the street, police said.
One of the assailants, Rahkwon Shiem Yarveez Oquendo, 22, was fatally wounded by the gunfire and collapsed in the street. Howard, also shot multiple times, was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Detectives said they later learned that Howard was holding onto part of $55,000 in trust fund money for a friend and that the 19-year-old had been flaunting the money on social media.
Jackson, who arrived unannounced to the family's apartment, later told detectives it was his fault that Howard's children will grow up without a dad. He was arrested this week in connection with the case.
Through interviews with Jackson, witnesses, family members of the four suspected intruders and surveillance video, detectives were able to determine the events leading up to the shooting.
Video surveillance shows Jackson going into Howard's apartment just after 1 a.m. on July 19 and the victim returning to the apartment about 10 minutes later. Five minutes after that, a Nissan Altima parks across the street from the apartment building and Jackson is seen walking out of the apartment and signaling the people in the car with his phone. The video then shows Jackson returning to the apartment. He later told detectives he left the door unlocked to allow the other suspects to enter, according to the report.
Oquendo, 22-year-old Travis Bradley-- who goes by Milliondolla Slab-- and LilRalph Johnson Jr., 20, are then seen entering the apartment. Soon after, Bradley is seen leaving the apartment and firing several shots at Howard. Oquendo runs out toward Peachtree Street and falls in the street, where he was later found dead. Police said Howard returned fire on the suspect, fatally shooting Oquendo.
The three other men fled after the shooting, the surveillance video shows.
Bradley and Johnson are wanted on murder and armed burglary charges. Both men have previous criminal history, according to Brevard County Jail records.
Howard, who killed two days after Father's Day, left behind a young daughter and his newborn son he never met.
Anyone with information about the shooting or the whereabouts of Johnson and Bradley asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.
Copyright 2018 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.