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Texts, threats led to mistaken identity killing, police say

  • Story Highlights
  • Henry Mancilla, 24, shot to death as he sat in his car with two others
  • One of the other men was the target, police say
  • Threats exchanged over the Internet, and murder plot was hatched, police say
  • Four men in custody; police executing search warrants
  • Next Article in Crime »
By Rich Phillips
Senior Producer
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Police think it started with a dispute over an ex-girlfriend. Threats were made on social networking sites and via text messages.

The suspects, clockwise from top left are: Lernio Colin, Angel Cruz, Peter MacDonald and Christopher Harter.

The suspects, clockwise from top left are: Lernio Colin, Angel Cruz, Peter MacDonald and Christopher Harter.

A murder plot was hatched and, police say, in the early hours of last Saturday morning, a Florida man was gunned down in his car. But the suspects apparently killed the wrong man.

Now four men are in custody, and will face charges of first degree premeditated murder and two counts of attempted murder. The four are Angel Cruz, 23; his brother from Oregon, Christopher Harter, 29; Peter MacDonald, 18; and Lernio Colin, 20. They have all appeared before a judge in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

They have not entered pleas and are being held without bond, according to state prosecutors.

Detectives are executing search warrants today, and much about the case is still not known.

"The victim was with two other males, in the vehicle," said Mike Jachles of the Broward Sheriff's Office.

"One of those men was the intended target," Jachles told CNN.

Witnesses said multiple shots were fired, according to police. Henry Mancilla, 24 was sitting in the driver's seat of a gold Mitsubishi Galant at an intersection in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale.

"They were exiting the vehicle when shots were fired, striking Mancilla," said Jachles. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mancilla was with two other men in their early 20s, Tony Santana and Nick Pappas. One of them was the intended victim, but police are not saying who.

"The four men acted in unison in planning and executing this murder. Mancilla was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he ended up the victim," said Mike Jachles.

The three victims said they had been "jumped" earlier in the evening by the same four men and fled the scene in a red Chevy Impala, according to a sheriff's detective affidavit released Monday afternoon.

Later, a blue Chevy Silverado pickup truck belonging to the defendant Cruz drove up to the three men, according to the affidavit. The victims say they armed themselves with a baseball bat and a walking cane, when the truck turned around and drove towards them. That's when the shots were fired.

Christopher Harter told police he was in the vehicle at the scene, but said he left the vehicle and then heard four or five gunshots, according to the affidavit. Harter also told police he saw his brother, Angel Cruz, in possession of a semi-automatic pistol three weeks prior to the incident.

"It could have been a case of mistaken identity, but our investigation will determine that," Jachles told CNN.

Threats were posted on social networking sites and sent via cellular text messages by the suspects to the intended victim, said police. Police said they have not subpoenaed those records and are not releasing the names of those Internet sites.

The Broward County State Attorney's office could seek the death penalty.

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