NewsStateBroward

Actions

Suspect in Belle Glade killing of 8-year-old girl found at Broward County home rented by Island Boys

Andrew Thomas is childhood friend of rap duo, manager says
Ron'Ziyah Atkins, 8-year-old Belle Glade girl killed in drive-by shooting on Feb. 4, 2022
Posted at 4:47 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 17:49:10-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — We are learning more about the man accused of killing an 8-year-old Belle Glade girl in a drive-by shooting last week.

Andrew Thomas appeared before a Broward County judge in bond court on unrelated charges Tuesday morning following his arrest Monday in Coral Springs.

He faces first-degree murder in the shooting death of Ron'Ziyah Atkins. The young girl died Friday from a gunshot wound while playing outside her home in Belle Glade.

According to the police report, deputies carried out a search warrant and found Thomas at a home armed with a loaded gun.

Andrew Thomas, suspect in killing of 8-year-old Belle Glade girl, court appearance Feb. 8, 2022
Andrew Thomas (bottom left) appears for a court appearance in Broward County on Feb. 8, 2022.

Coral Springs police said the home is being rented out by the TikTok rap duo known as the Island Boys.

"I would never imagine in a million years that this person was going out there and doing these violent crimes on the street," said Dovi Bezner, the manager for the Island Boys.

Bezner said they were all shocked by the alarming allegations. He said Thomas was a childhood friend of the Island Boys and had been sleeping over at the home for the past two nights.

"I really didn't expect nothing out of him like this. This is a big shock," Bezner said. "We knew him as a quiet, quiet kid that would come around and do his thing. But apparently you know, he was a little monster."

Dovi Bezner, manager for the Island Boys
The manager of the Island Boys spoke with WPTV about why the suspected killer was at a home rented by the rap duo.

According to deputies, the Island Boys were not involved in the murder investigation.

Thomas has a criminal history and was convicted on charges related to an armed robbery in 2019 and sentenced to six years probation.

Bezner said they were aware of his past run-ins with the law but never could've imagined he would end up facing more serious charges.

"He was just hanging around the wrong people and he got into trouble. Wrong place, wrong time, peer pressure," Bezner said. "It's very unfortunate. It's very sad."

Thomas is still waiting to be transferred from Broward County to the Palm Beach County jail.

He faces three felonies including first-degree murder, attempted murder and a felon in possession of a firearm.