Shooting death highlights disturbing trend
Families across Duval County dealing with unsolved murders
Family and friends of a Jacksonville father are grieving Thursday as police search for the people who shot and killed his son outside The Blind Rabbit restaurant Thursday.
According to police, 20-year-old Daniel Rowe was shot at about 10 p.m. in an alley behind the restaurant, at the corner of King and College streets. He was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where he died.
For people in the same situation, dealing with the loss of a loved one in an unsolved murder, it's an all-too-familiar feeling.
Bill Martell knows that loss all too well after one of his closest friends, 34-year-old Dustin Minarik, died in the street in front of his home in March of last year.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said that someone at a party across the street shot him after an argument, but no arrests have been made.
"He's just missed. And it's wrong that not only did it happened to Dustin, but everybody else that this is happening to. The other families, the friends, the children and mothers, the fathers," Martell said.
Martell heard about Thursday night's shooting at The Blind Rabbit and thought: not again.
Martell said he understands that feeling of loss. Minarik had three kids who he and his family took care of after he died. They also know the pain of not knowing who is responsible for their loved one's death.
"Six a.m. to 12 a.m., we were together every single day of our life. There was not one day we were apart until that awful night," Martell said.
Martell is talking about the night last year when Minarik, a man he considered family, died.
Teens in a home across from Minarik's were having a CD release party, and witnesses said some of the teens started shooting guns. Minarik told them to calm down, and that's when one of the teens fired, killing him.
"We wait for him to drive by. We wait for him to pull up, we talk about him every day. On my way home, every single day of our lives, we talk about Dustin," Martell said.
Standing next to Minarik's uncle in the shop where they all worked together, Martell said the hardest part is the fact that police have made no arrests, even after interviewing multiple people at the party.
"Do you understand that fear that some people have of not wanting to come forward because they are afraid of what might happen to them? Sure, I understand fully, but there is a right and a wrong. He was shot by a coward in the back. And he was a father of three and had custody of two of his children, and now they're left in a loop because nobody will come clean," Martell said.
He hopes that will change soon and that the person who killed Minarik will be brought to justice.
"It would just give us closure. I mean, it really wouldn't change the way we feel, but it would give his family closure, and my family closure, on top of friends, too, and maybe it'll make people think of the repercussions of what they do," Martell said.
Martell said that sometimes they feel like giving up, but they keep moving forward, hoping for justice.
Investigators are still looking for more information in Dustin Minarik's death and are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
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