Crime

Witness to Beach Place Murder-Suicide Haunted by Disturbing Scene

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Though most of the scene had been cleaned up by this weekend, the patrons and employees of Beach Place were still discussing the shocking murder-suicide that took place there, in front of at least a dozen witnesses, in broad daylight last Wednesday.

One man was standing right outside Maui Nix Surf Shop, just feet from the shooting when it happened. He calls the incident "the most surreal thing I've ever seen, without a doubt."

The witness, one of several who have already spoken with police, asked that his name not be published because, in his words, "I really don't want to be involved with this case."

Beach Place was full of tourists shopping and people sitting down to lunch at Hooters and Fat Tuesday's about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Juan Alicea Orozco, 23, and his sister, Jesnishia Alicea Orozco, 25, were visiting their mother, who works at the cigar kiosk on the first-floor gallery, according to police. When their mother turned her back for a moment, the brother pulled out a handgun, shot his sister twice, and turned the gun on himself.

"I thought for a second they were filming a movie or something," the witness said. "It was like that famous picture from Vietnam of the guy just turning and shooting the other guy point blank. But then there was all this screaming, and people started running. It was total chaos everywhere."

In a 911 call made seconds after the shots were fired, the caller tells the operator he's hiding with his children. Both brother and sister died later that day at Broward General Medical Center.

The dispute reportedly began over money, but Beach Place regulars are left pondering what, exactly, would inspire a man to murder his sister, then kill himself, all in front of their mother.

"It just keeps playing over and over in my head," the witness said. "That kind of thing should just never happen."

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Michael J. Mooney