Friday, July 1, 2011
Out for Justice: Antoine Gracius
He came here from Haiti to find work, but all he found was a savage death in a Broward parking lot. In tonight's "Out for Justice," 7's Patrick Fraser tells us that Pembroke Pines detectives are asking the community's help in finding a van that will lead them to a dangerous killer.
WSVN -- It was around 1 a.m. Closing time at the T.G.I. Friday's in Pembroke Pines.
This van had been circling the area for nearly an hour, the driver with his window down and arm hanging out the window, looking around.
Sergeant Chris Stasio, Pembroke Pines Police: "And probably assumed there was going to be either a server or a manager leaving with some cash. Thought it was probably a good opportunity to prey on somebody with cash."
Antoine Kirini Gracius was busy working inside the Friday's. The father of six took every shift he could so he could send money back to his six children in Haiti.
Suze Joseph, Antoine's Cousin: "In Haiti, they depend completely on the father to go to school, pay for everything, so he took care of them completely. No one else but him."
Just after 1 a.m., Antoine walked out of Friday's. The surveillance cameras did not capture the ambush, but then, you see Antoine running back to the restaurant, banging on the door, where co-workers dialed 911.
Caller: "He's bleeding really, really bad. He needs an ambulance immediately."
Operator: "Listen. Listen. I have an ambulance on the way."
Antoine had been stabbed several times, at least once in an artery. Some of his last words trying to let his co-workers, who had nicknamed him "Chongo," know about the van.
Operator: "Did you see anybody that was driving or in the vehicle?"
Caller: "I didn't see anybody. Chongo, what does he look like? He can't answer me. He's hurt really bad."
Detective Carl Heim, Pembroke Pines Police: "And tells one of his co-workers to get the tag. Would leave me to believe it was a random person. If it was someone he knew, I think he would have used a name or told them."
The driver fled. Too late to get a tag number. And Antoine bled to death.
Suze Joseph: "I was in shock. I was really, really in shock."
Patrick Fraser: "A hardworking father dead. A despicable killer got away. But Pembroke Pines Police have a couple of good clues. A chain like this was found where Antoine was ambushed. Antoine fought the attacker and maybe ripped the silver chain. This may be one good clue. The other is a much bigger clue: That van."
Sergeant Chris Stasio: "The van itself is a late-model van. It possibly has damage to the passenger side sliding door. There's a sticker in the lower right rear window of the vehicle that looks like to be possibly a soccer ball. The van has distinctive spoke wheels."
That's what the van looked like in April when the driver stabbed Antoine to death. But it's very possible it might not look the same way today.
Captain Daniel Rakofsky, Pembroke Pines Police: "The person in possession of this vehicle that we're looking for could have painted it, could have sold it, could have removed a sticker from the rear windshield, so any of that type of activity has gone on and anyone knows about it, we're very interested in that as well."
This van could lead Pembroke Pines Police to this killer, or to be more clear, you could lead police to the van.
Captain Daniel Rakofsky: "We know that car is out there, and we know someone watching this program will say, 'You know what? There's a car that kind of looks like that one block over. I pass it every day. Let me just let the Pembroke Pines Police Department know that I've seen a car like that,' and there's certainly no harm in doing so."
No harm in calling Pembroke Pines Police to help them catch a killer, to help a family get over their shock.
Antoine Julien Gracius, Antoine's Brother: "He was a good guy. That's why I think when he dies, nobody is going to hurt him, because he never messed with nobody."
Suze Joseph: "When you leave home and come here to have a better life, a better tomorrow, and with a tragic thing like that, it makes you wonder: who will be the next one? What will happen to me or someone else?"
Patrick Fraser: "The van is probably in plain sight. You might have seen it in a driveway. If you see one like it or one that has had work done on it in the last couple of months, call Broward Crime Stoppers. Pembroke Pines Police would appreciate it, and so would six children that depended on on their father."
And if you would like to help catch the killer of one of your loved ones, give us a call to help all the people who are still out for justice.
Broward Crime Stoppers: 954-493-TIPS (8477)
Out For Justice: 305-598-HELP (4357) in Miami-Dade or 954-796-HELP (4357) in Broward