Police still searching for Boca Raton bartender killer

While police in Boca Raton continue to search for the masked men who shot and killed a bartender, a small memorial has been created in front of the restaurant where it happened.

Businesses in the strip malls near Josephine's are returning to work for the first time since the murder.

Police say the suspects robbed employees and patrons at Josephine's Italian Restaurant on Friday night around midnight.

Investigators said bartender Rafael Rodriguez, 46, 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.

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

A visitation was held Monday and dozens of family and friends turned out at Glick Funeral Home in mourning. At the plaza near the restaurant it was also a somber day.

The owner of Franco Oriental Rugs, Lucia Franco, says she has worked a couple of doors down from the restaurant for five years. She has known the owner of Josephine's, Josephine Tribunella, and Rodriguez for more than ten years. She describes Rodriguez as a nice, hard working man, and says Rodriguez and the owner had been dating.

Franco says the situation has been impossible to comprehend.

"I am just sad in my heart you know," she said. "

Carter McDonald is a friend of Rodriguez who fondly remembers him. He brought candles and a note on behalf of several friends.

"I recognized the quality of his character and his decency as a human being. I was shocked and I am still in shock, I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. One of the nicest guys that I ever met in south Florida is gone in such a tragic fashion and it's truly senseless," he said.

Franco says Rodriguez was close with Tribunella. McDonald says the two spent a lot of time together.

"He was very attached to the owners of this place and felt a real sense of personal responsibility," he said.

Franco says she has always felt safe in the area but other business owners have mixed feelings.

In an effort to reach Tribunella by phone, a person answered and said Tribunella is not ready to speak about the tragedy.

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.

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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