Bartender shot dead during armed robbery late Friday evening at a Boca restaurant

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Police in Boca Raton continued their search on Saturday for the masked men who shot and killed a bartender after police said the suspects robbed employees and patrons at Josephine's Italian Restaurant.

Squad cars and detectives remained on scene late into Saturday evening where they continued to piece together the scene that began shortly before midnight on Friday.

Investigators said bartender Rafael Rodriguez, 47, and another employee were attacked behind the restaurant right around closing time. They said the masked men, armed with guns, then stormed through the doors of the establishment where they began robbing everyone inside.

Police said Rodriguez said something to one of the suspects who then shot Rodriguez as the suspect fled. 

"Wow I probably left just 10 minutes before that happened. It's unbelievable," said Derik Olson, who works at Josephine's.

Olson, who is a bus boy at the restaurant, showed up to work on Saturday unaware that one of his co-workers had been killed.

Friends of Rodriguez also arrived on scene to pay their respects.

"It hurts, it does hurt the whole family. It really does. I just don't know what else to say," said John Simeone, a friend of the victim.

Simeone and other frequent patrons like Todd McWeeny brought flowers and tried to think of the better times with their friend.

"Just a guy working and some piece of crap has to come out and snuff him out," said McWeeny.

Those who knew Rodriguez paint the picture of a man loyal to his place of work and say that he most likely died trying to protect the restaurant.

The suspects fled out of the back door of the restaurant and were last seen running south behind the buildings.

Authorities are looking for four black males. One suspect is described as tall and thin. He was wearing a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, a baseball cap, a backpack and a mask. He had a black revolver.

The second suspect is thin and was wearing knee-length shorts, a backpack and a hood and mask. He was armed with a handgun.

The third suspect is medium build and was wearing a short-sleeve shirt, pants, a bandana and baseball cap. 

The fourth suspect was wearing a long-sleeve dark shirt, below-the-knee shorts and was covering his face.

Boca Raton detectives are following leads throughout the South Florida area.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call the Boca Raton Police Department at 561-368-6201 or Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.

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