When he was bored, LaBeet sometimes watched his dogs fight in the kitchen. But more often, he simply used them to scam people. He stole photos of other breeders' dogs and obtained fraudulent certificates stating his dogs were much younger than they were, according to police reports and internet complaints. "Do not send them money!" one customer warned on ripoffreport.com. "You cannot trust these thieves."

But his shady breeding business was nothing compared to his obsession with guns. On March 14, 2006, LaBeet walked into Kiffney's Firearms in Key Largo and ordered three Yugoslavian rifles. He provided Wehner's driver's license and social security number. Two weeks later, LaBeet returned and bought a pistol. He also asked the store owner for four bulletproof vests, four gas masks, and four additional guns. But Thomas Kiffney refused and called the ATF's Miami office.

Torres admits his uncle was more than a gun enthusiast: He was a ­black-market weapons dealer. LaBeet eventually quit straw-buying when one of the guns he sold was used for a murder, Torres says. In fact, a month after Kiffney called in his suspicious customer, the store owner received a reply from the ATF: One of LaBeet's Yugoslavian rifles had been recovered by police. But the ATF apparently failed to pursue the case.

Illustration by Joseph Laney
Illustration by Joseph Laney

LaBeet and his teenage nephew Robert Johnson would spend days playing Grand Theft Auto and talking about the guns in the game. "He had a crazy side," Johnson says. LaBeet would drive his nephew to the shooting range, pull an assortment of guns from the trunk, hand over Wehner's license, and start rattling off rounds. LaBeet was always packing — usually a pistol in his waistband and an assault rifle in his car trunk. "He was into certain guns from Grand Theft Auto, like M16s and AK-47s," Johnson says. "He kept himself safe."

In reality, he was obsessed. His house was littered with guns, holsters, ammunition, and plastic baggies of bullets. On the hutch in his living room rested a CZ 52 pistol, an extra magazine, and a book titled Stress Fire Gun Fighting for Police. Another handgun was wedged behind his bed, just a few feet from where his youngest daughter slept.

LaBeet was also a marksman. Johnson remembers comparing targets with his uncle after rounds. The bullet holes on LaBeet's sheet were always tightly clustered around the head and heart. "Kill shots," Johnson says. "It was like playing darts for him."

But there were increasing signs that Shawn was confusing real life with Grand Theft Auto. A neighbor later told police that LaBeet had pulled out a pistol and pointed it at him one night for no reason.

LaBeet did far more than threaten violence. One time, he spotted a Miami-Dade Police cruiser near his house in Naranja. He pulled his AK from the trunk and "took a pot shot" at the cop, LaBeet later told Torres. He also bragged about killing someone he caught trying to steal his dogs. Police say both stories broadly match unsolved crimes.

Like his older brother Ishmael before him, Shawn also began mixing guns and God. He, too, converted to Islam in 2005, a sister later told police. He and D'Angelo had two more kids in 2006 and 2007, and Shawn gave the youngest an Arabic name: Fatima.

In the month before his death, Shawn began acting even stranger than usual. He grew a beard, as if trying to disguise his appearance. He often told friends or family that people were "after him." And his mother, Elizabeth, later described him as "suicidal" in his final days.

Most telling, however, was a conversation LaBeet had with Torres only a few days after Chris Reyka was gunned down. LaBeet had been taking tons of LSD and Ecstasy and seemed to be shaken by something. "I had a dream," he kept telling his nephew. "I had a dream about being in a shootout with police."

Two weeks after Reyka's death, LaBeet approached Richard Lherisson, a friend and fellow dog breeder, and asked him where he could get a fake ID. LaBeet said he was wanted in another state. A week later, he was back at Lherisson's kennel, bragging about buying a new AK-47 with a scope and laser.

During each visit, D'Angelo drove LaBeet because "he did not want the police to stop him," Lherisson later told detectives. And if cops ever pulled him over, Shawn promised, he would "go out in a blaze of glory."


Shawn LaBeet's busted-up Buick LeSabre screeched something fierce as it swerved along SW 145th Avenue. It was a beautiful late-summer morning, and to the west, the Naranja reservoir glinted the same insane green as the bay in Saint Thomas. But as LaBeet barreled down the road, he could see only red.

Ten minutes earlier, a veterinarian had refused to forge age certificates for two bulldogs in the back seat. Now LaBeet was enraged. Glancing in the rear-view mirror, he could see D'Angelo's white and black Honda Civic recede as he stepped on the gas.

As he passed a gray sedan headed in the opposite direction, something strange happened. The car suddenly swung around and began following him. The plainclothes police officers inside were patrolling for home intruders when they spotted the speeding ­LeSabre. Instead of a traffic stop, they got a war.

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6 comments
pattilynn7177
pattilynn7177

I have to disagree with Perkins.  First, Curcio has NO axe to grind.  He has always been meticulous.  If he says that it'sLaBeet, I believe him.  Curcio has never granndstanded over any of the cases that he has been involved in solving.  Sgt. Reyka would have approved of his methods, investigation, and conclusions.  This story was very well done, and I appreciate the thoroughness.

perkins1085
perkins1085

This is simply a case of BSO grasping at straws to bring closure to open murder case.  They can assume Lebeet is their suspect but they'll never know beyond a shadow of a doubt if he really is since dead men can't tell tales. 

perkins1085
perkins1085

@pattilynn7177  


This smells of Scott Israel & his quest to make a name for himself.  It sounds like Curico had LaBeet figured for this crime years ago--Why didn't BSO come forward with this years ago?


Its not a coincidence that the newly elected super sheriff solves a 7yr open murder case within his first year of office.  

pattilynn7177
pattilynn7177

@perkins1085 @pattilynn7177  


Mr. Perkins, I believe that John Curcio was working on it even when Al Lamberti was sheriff.  I don't believe that your premise, "making a name for himself," is true, I certainbly hope not.  No law enforcement officer that I've ever worked with, or known, would put politics above anything, when it comes to solving the murder of a fellow law enforcement officer.  John Curcio would not.

 
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