Man arrested in Little Havana grandfather death also charged with child sex abuse, cops say

A man arrested in the shooting death of a grandfather in Little Havana Thursday morning, was also charged with molesting a child who was able to identify him after he was captured later in the day, police said.

“It never would have come out if this didn’t happen,” said Miami Police spokesman Michael Vega. “It’s a crazy twist.”

The arrest and identity of Carlos Manuel Rosales, 38, was the shocking conclusion of a daylong cat-and-mouse game between the suspect and police, that began with a shooting witnessed by Rosales’ step-niece in what everyone at first believed was just a home robbery gone wrong.

In the end, with the help of surveillance video, Rosales was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder with a weapon and single counts of molesting a child and lewd and lascivious exhibitionism. He was transported to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. His bond has not yet been set.

“She didn’t know who the offender was until after we started questioning her at the police station, after he [Rosales] was taken into custody,” Vega said.

Girl finds masked intruder in her home

According to witnesses and police, it was just after 8 a.m. Thursday when Rosales’ 11-year-old niece saw someone wearing long sleeves, with a hoodie obscuring his face, enter the apartment she shares with her mother on Southwest Fifth Street. Vega said the girl, who was home alone, ran into her mother’s bedroom and called her mom, who called her grandfather, who was at a nearby laundromat.

Luciano Matute, 62, raced over to the second-floor apartment and confronted the masked man, before being shot several times in the chest. His granddaughter witnessed the shooting, which drew several neighbors out of their apartments, many of whom called police. Matute was found unresponsive at the base of the stairs and later pronounced dead.

Police don’t believe Matute recognized Rosales before the shooting.

Witnesses told police the man got into a white Toyota Tundra with black rims. Police confirmed that with video from a closed-circuit camera, which also helped them get the license plate number. Just before 4 p.m. that afternoon, police found the Tundra at a Little Havana home and Rosales was taken into custody in the vehicle a short while later at a nearby intersection.

Police said he confessed to the murder, but not the sexual assault of the child.

The victim identified the man after police showed her a picture of him at the station. She told police that Rosales had been fondling her since she was 8 years old and that he would often expose himself to her. She said he usually did it in his apartment when they were alone or when other adults were occupied.

The young girl also told police that Rosales last assaulted her two days before the murder of Matute. She said she began to scream when Rosales began fondling her and he ran off.

Vega said as of now police believe Rosales — with his face covered — was just trying to steal some items from his sister-in-law’s home and was surprised to find his niece there when he arrived.