MIAMI -- Police said two men and two juveniles arrested
Friday in the shooting death of Washington Redskins star Sean
Taylor went to his home intent on stealing, not killing.
The suspects didn't expect Taylor to be home, said Miami-Dade
County police Director Robert Parker, but Taylor was recuperating
from a knee injury and had returned to Miami from Washington. When
Taylor surprised them, he was shot.
"They were certainly not looking to go there and kill anyone,"
Parker said. "They were expecting a residence that was not
occupied. So murder or shooting someone was not their initial
Police spokeswoman Linda O'Brien identified the four suspects
as: Venjah K. Hunte, 20; Eric Rivera Jr., 17; Jason Scott Mitchell,
17; and Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 18. O'Brien said the charges
for each had not yet been determined, but "we are talking murder
The four were arrested Friday in southwest Florida, about 100
miles from Miami. They will be booked into the Lee County Jail and
eventually will be returned to Miami, O'Brien said. She did not
have any information on when they would appear in court, their
hometowns or if they had attorneys.
Janelle Hall, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County jail, said
security reasons prevented her from releasing information regarding
when the suspects would be transferred to Miami.
The 24-year-old Pro Bowl safety died Tuesday, one day after
being shot at his home in an affluent Miami suburb during what
officials said appeared to be an attempted burglary.
Police have been investigating a possible link to a Nov. 17
break-in at Taylor's home, during which they said someone pried
open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen
knife on a bed.
Authorities said they had more than one confession, but Parker
would not elaborate.
"We're looking into whether or not one or more of the
individuals had been at the residence before," Parker said.
Family friend Richard Sharpstein said at least one of the
suspects was at Taylor's house when his sister recently had a
party, but that Taylor did not know the men.
"It's a burglary, and they targeted him for his wealth," said
Sharpstein, who's Taylor's former attorney. "It makes his death
even more pathetic, unnecessary and just, actually disgusting.''
Sharpstein had not spoken with Taylor's family regarding the
arrests, but said he doubted it provided any comfort.
"I know they are just saddened and appalled. The fact that they
arrested his killer is no comfort to them," he said. "It probably
inflames them more, because it tells them people were trying to
steal from him.
"They are murderers. They should be treated like murderers and
put in the Miami River and floated away."
The Miami Herald reported on its Web site that Mitchell and
Wardlow had connections to Taylor. Mitchell cut Taylor's lawn and
did other chores at the house, Mitchell's twin brother, Scottie,
told the newspaper. Taylor's sister, Sasha Johnson, dates Wardlow's
older cousin Christopher, and Scottie Mitchell told the paper the
couple invited Jason Mitchell to Johnson's birthday party within
the past two months.
A woman who identified herself as Jason Mitchell's mother told
the Naples Daily News her son was at a birthday party at Sean
Taylor's home a couple months ago. She also said her son was at
home all week and last weekend.
"I don't know where he's at, I don't know why he's being
held," she told the Naples paper. "No parent should see this
happen to their child."
O'Brien would not confirm the reports when contacted by The
Taylor and longtime girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, were awakened
early Monday by loud noises at Taylor's home in an affluent Miami
suburb. Taylor grabbed a machete he kept in the bedroom for
protection, Sharpstein said. Someone broke
through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one
hitting Taylor in the upper leg. Neither the couple's 18-month-old
daughter, also named Jackie, nor Garcia were injured.
The bullet damaged the femoral artery in Taylor's leg, causing
significant blood loss. Taylor never regained consciousness and
died a little more than 24 hours later.
A public viewing for Taylor is scheduled Sunday in Miami, and
the entire Redskins organization plans to fly to Florida to attend
Monday's funeral at Pharmed Arena at Florida International
The Redskins also announced that fans attending the team's
Sunday game will receive a towel with Taylor's No.21 jersey on it
and that his name will be displayed prominently in one of the end
zones. Snyder said the team will contribute a minimum of $500,000
to a fund to benefit Taylor's daughter.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder released a statement late Friday
acknowledging the arrests.
"This is another step, but not a conclusion, in a very personal
and painful tragedy," he said. "I also want to thank everyone who
has joined us in mourning the loss of Sean. People from all over
the world contacted the Redskins to share our grief and offer their
prayers for Sean and his family. We will never forget the courage
his family, especially Jackie, Pete and Donna, have shown. Their
composure has been a source of strength for us all."