Police search for athlete's killer
NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Family members and police are desperate for answers in the shooting death of an inspirational athlete.
Miami Police said it was sometime around 11:30 p.m. Friday, on Northwest 79th Avenue, somewhere between 17th and 21st Avenue, when Danny Perez took his bike off the bus and began to ride home, westbound. Then, police said, someone shot him. He died on the scene. "Mr. Perez was located by several passersby, which they attempted to render assistance," said Miami-Dade Police detective Jonathan Fable.
Perez's family and friends made a plea to the public Wednesday morning for someone to bring forward information that may lead to the shooter. "We can only do it with your help," his mother, Grisel Marsol, said through a translator.
The 35-year-old was named Miami-Dade County's Special Olympic Inspirational Athlete of the Year and was honored in 2008.
Those who knew him said he was truly an inspiration. "He was the pillar of the program. He competed in cycling, soccer, power lifting and basketball. We got a lot of calls from coaches and athletes alike, and it's a great loss to our program," Mark Thompson of the Miami-Dade County Special Olympics said.
Along with being an integral member of the Special Olympics community, Perez was also the Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School football equipment manager and the team's biggest fan. "He was the definition of pride and spirit for Hialeah and Miami Lakes and for me personally. I've been coaching there for seven years, and Danny never left my side," said Hialeah-Miami Lakes football coach Pedro Basnueva.
The mentally challenged 35-year-old also made many friends at a Hialeah recreation center for those with special needs. His many peers are now asking who would fatally shoot this man and why. "In our center, he's left a lot of friends, and to them he was their big brother. He was their protector," said Mercy Martinez.
There are plans in the works for the Florida State legislature to honor Perez on the floor.
On the night of the shooting, Perez was in his distinctive University of Miami gear in the colors of dark green and orange. If you saw anything that night that can help police find Perez's killer, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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