Maritza Medina, the driver who was killed when her car was rammed by a fleeing suspect’s Mercedes sports utility vehicle in west Broward, died less than a half-mile from her home where she lived with her husband and two kids.
“She was a great person. She had no bad karma,” said her godson Andrew Medina, who said she never did anything bad to anybody.
The 48-year-old woman was a housewife, he said.
“She loved doing what she did. She loved the family. She was a family person,” her godson said on his way to her home on the 20300 block of Southwest 54th Place, where family members were coming together. “She was always here for us.”
Medina was ejected from her black Mercedes Wednesday morning after it was struck by the dark blue SUV of suspect Antonio Feliu in an intersection at Griffin Road and U.S. 27, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash followed an alleged fatal shooting of two women at a house in South Miami Heights that kicked off a high-speed chase to west Broward, authorities said. Feliu, who allegedly killed the women then fled the scene, ultimately died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.
The first victims were Vivian Gallego Martinez and her daughter Anabel Benitez. The 51-year old-mother was shot to death in their home at 12341 Southwest 190th St. in South Miami Heights. Benitez, 28, was taken to Kendall Regional Trauma Center with gunshot wounds and died a few hours later.
Police said Feliu once dated Martinez. Detectives are exploring the possibility that Feliu may have been angry over a split between him and Martinez, Miami-Dade Police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said.
Though the process has been difficult, detectives said they have to reach out to the victims' loved ones in hopes of learning more.
"It's hard to talk to family members when they are mourning, right now they are suffering from their deep loss," Zabaleta said.
Neighbors said the mother and daughter rented an efficiency unit in the house.
A man NBC 6 was told is the property owner would not answer any questions. The house is for sale.
America Arza said she picks up her granddaughter across the street every day and claims she saw a suspicious man entering the house on Tuesday.
"I saw him as a person who seemed as if he was thinking about doing something. Truthfully, because he was looking around and he looked nervous,” Sarza said. “It wasn’t normal.”
A neighbor who did not want to be named said she spotted the blue Mercedes there Tuesday night around 11 p.m.
"The Mercedes would always come by,” the neighbor said. “Last night I noticed it passed by slowly and I thought oh, it's going to stop. But it kept going.”
Residents provide mixed accounts of police activity at the house in the past. One neighbor said she saw police there a few times. But Ana de Armas said she had not.
She said she's been living next door for 50 years, and Wednesday was "the first time I have (ever) seen something going on in this property."
Late Wednesday cleaning crews wiped down the crime scene, and moved out furniture.
Back in Broward, one neighbor said that Medina has just dropped off one of her daughters at school and was returning home when she was hit.
Medina’s neighbors were feeling the pain.
“It’s a tragedy. It’s so sad,” said Barbara Wentzel, who added, “My heart was just – I couldn't fathom it.”
Lonnie Bergeron said Medina “was just a wonderful person.”
“Very, very sweet person to everybody. Great mom,” he said. “Her husband's great. Wonderful family.”
She had served on the neighborhood association, Bergeron said.
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