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Gunman in fatal shooting at sugar cane facility had just been fired, detectives say

Felix Cabrera, 86, faces first-degree murder charge in shooting at Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida
Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida shooting scene, June 4, 2021
Posted at 10:24 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 23:18:59-04

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — A longtime employee at a sugar cane facility near Belle Glade had just been fired when he fatally shot his boss, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office detectives said.

Felix Cabrera, 86, was arrested Friday and faces a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting at the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said Cabrera, who had worked there for 31 years, was instructed Friday morning to clock out and not return to work.

Barbera said Cabrera asked to remain on the job for another year but was told no, prompting him to pull a gun out of his pocket and shoot the 67-year-old victim multiple times, killing him.

Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida sign outside building where shooting took place, June 4, 2021

When deputies arrived, they found the victim dead near the entrance to the building.

Barbera said deputies searched the building and found Cabrera holding a handgun.

The victim, who lived in Martin County, was not identified.

The Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida released the following statement regarding the shooting:

We are horrified and deeply saddened by the senseless violence that occurred today. The victim was part of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative family, and we are praying for the victim’s loved ones, as well as all our team members and growers. We will be there for one another in the days, weeks and months ahead. We also thank the first responders who bravely and quickly responded to this tragic situation. We will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and we are referring questions to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Cabrera was being held without bond. He was expected to appear before a Palm Beach County judge Saturday morning.

What is the Sugar Cane Growers Co-Op?

Forty-four small to medium-sized member farms make up the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida.

The cooperative said sugar cane grown by its members is harvested, transported, processed and then the raw sugar is marketed to one of the American Sugar Refining Group's sugar refineries. They produce more than 350,000 tons of raw sugar annually. Once refined, the sugar is enough to serve the average annual demand of more than 9 million people.

Florida is the nation's largest producer of cane sugar, accounting for one in every five teaspoons consumed.