Suspects accused of murdering Army Ranger claim self defense, police say he was unarmed

(Miami, FL) Police say they have arrested two men for their alleged connection to the shooting death of a infantry Army Ranger* veteran on Christmas night outside a South Florida casino.

33-year-old Fernando Duarte was alledgedly shot as he was leaving the Miccosukee Resort & Casino by two 25-year-old men.

Officials say the men claimed self defense after the alleged murder despite detectives saying the veteran was unarmed.

Duare’s family said he was murdered after winning a jackpot from a slot machine but police reports differ.

A report by Diario Las Americas claims that eyewitnesses said Duarte had actually been playing poker and that “triumphs and disagreements” preceded the murder. ABC news corroborated this report, stating “the suspects were playing poker at the same table as Duarte when words were exchanged.”

Police later confirmed these reports, saying Duarte got into “a brief verbal altercation” with Mikey Tyquan Lenard and Kenin Sherrod Bailey inside the casino just before 7 p.m. on Christmas night.

Detectives said Duarte and his friend were asked to leave the casino.

When the men crossed paths again outside the parking lot, they again exchanged words. The suspects then proceeded to their vehicle where they cut off Duarte in the parking lot.

Kenin Bailey, 25, fired his weapon multiple times from inside a car being driven by Mikey Lenard, who is also 25, hitting Duarte once in the pelvis, once in the wrist and his hand.

Officials later charged Kenin Bailey and Mikey Lenard in the case.

“The co-defendant [Lenard] operated the motor vehicle and actively sought out the victim in the parking lot,” a police officer wrote on Bailey’s arrest affidavit.

Duarte was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where he died during surgery, according to police.

Both men have been charged with first degree murder in the case and currently being held on no bond.  During their first appearance in court, the prosecutor told the judge that Bailey told security personnel -with the murder weapon in hand- that he had shot Duarte in self defense.

Detectives stated that they did not find any weapons on Duarte.

Diario Las Americas reported the Duarte was vacationing in Miami for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

*The news reports are not clear about if Duarte served in a Ranger battalion or was just Ranger qualified.

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