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Witnesses told Philadelphia police Gregory Tony wasn’t defending himself when he shot and killed friend execution-style

philadelphia
philadelphia
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, left, and the man he shot and killed in May 1993, Hector “Chino” Rodriguez. Rodriguez is holding his daughter Melanie.

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org

Dozens of pages of newly released Philadelphia police records about the 1993 murder arrest of Gregory Scott Tony are casting fresh doubt on the Broward sheriff’s claim that he fired in “self-defense,” as a 14-year-old, when he shot and killed 18-year-old Hector “Chino” Rodriguez.

Tony was acquitted of Rodriguez’s May 3 murder and several related gun charges on Dec. 15, 1993, but all juvenile court records about the case have not been found and have apparently been destroyed.

However, Florida Bulldog has learned that witnesses who didn’t show up to testify at Tony’s trial figured into the acquittal decision.

Until now, the only versions of what happened were a brief summary of events written by homicide detectives – and obtained by Florida Bulldog in April 2020 – and Tony’s account.

The Pennsylvania records were obtained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and provided to Florida’s Commission on Ethics when the FDLE referred the case it had built against Tony for the commission’s consideration. They were included in a document dump by the ethics commission after announcing on Wednesday that probable cause was found to believe Tony had repeatedly misused his position by providing false or misleading information about himself to authorities – most notably when he failed to inform Gov. Ron DeSantis that he’d once been arrested for murder before DeSantis appointed him to serve as Broward’s sheriff. Many of the Philadelphia police records can be viewed here.

A PHILADELPHIA STORY

According to four Philadelphia police arrest affidavits, a trio of young witnesses told detectives they saw Tony arguing with Rodriguez outside Tony’s home at 2828 N. Hutchinson St. Each said Tony abruptly ran inside and came out quickly carrying a gun.

philadelphia
The scene of the shooting, 2828 N. Hutchinson St., Philadelphia. Tony’s former home is on the left with the brickwork sidewalk.

David Serrano, a 17-year-old junior at Mastbaum High School, and Jonathan Berberna, 13, were eyewitnesses to the 3:45 p.m. murder.

Both stated they watched Tony shoot Rodriguez dead in the street. Jonathan’s brother, 11-year-old Joel Berberna, told detectives he ran away after seeing Tony walk up to Rodriguez and point a gun at him, but heard the gunshots and returned later to see Rodriguez dead in the street.

Serrano said in a statement that he’d been hanging out with Tony’s older brother, “Wham,” and that they’d walked back to Tony’s Philadelphia row house where they watched Tony and Rodriguez arguing. They were sitting on the front steps of the residence next door.

“I think the argument started when some piper [crack] lady walked down the street and Hector had said to Greg, ‘There goes your mom.’ That’s what I heard it started over,” Serrano said.

Things quickly escalated. Serrano and Jonathan Berberna both told police that Tony, then an eighth-grader at a nearby bilingual middle school, challenged Rodriguez to fight. Rodriguez, who stood more than 5-feet-11 and weighed 262 pounds, refused to fight the much smaller Tony, who was then 5-feet-9 and 140 pounds.

TONY GOT HIS GUN

Rodriguez’s refusal prompted Tony to run inside his home and get a gun. He came out brandishing his father’s .32 chrome-plated, six-shot Rossi revolver.

“Serrano related that when Hector refused to fight Greg, Greg went into 2828 N. Hutchinson St. and exited a short time later with a gun. He related that Greg then shot the unarmed Rodriguez about six times and that Rodriguez collapsed in the street in front of that location with numerous gunshot wounds. Serrano related that Greg then fled on foot,” one arrest affidavit states.

A .32 caliber, six-shot Rossi revolver like the gun Gregory Tony used to shoot Hector Rodriguez

Berberna “related that Greg fired six shots at Hector and that Hector fell down and that blood was coming from Hector’s mouth,’’ another arrest affidavit said.

“Everybody was like stunned by what had happened because they were friends,” said Serrano, who told detectives he watched as Tony put the handgun in his pocket before fleeing.

The Philadelphia police reports don’t mention any gun being found at the crime scene. It is not known if the gun Tony used to kill Rodriguez was ever found.

“Then I heard Greg’s father shouting his name and then Greg just started running down the street and across Somerset and he went up one of the little streets and me and Wham ran after him but we couldn’t find him,” Serrano said.

Asked by police, “In your mind was there any reason for Greg to shoot and kill Hector?” Serrano answered, “No.”

‘WHO DID IT. WHO DID IT!’

Rodriguez’s younger brother, Jose Lagares, told police he was at home nearby at the time. “I was in the house cooking and I heard about six gunshots. They sounded real close, like it was right outside,” Lagares, 15, said in a statement taken later that day. “My mother said, ‘GO SEE. GO CHECK!’ I went outside and saw people running towards Hutchinson St., and I followed them. Then, I seen my brother Hector laying on the sidewalk. He was bleeding from his nose, mouth and his neck. He was unconscious and I yelled, ‘WHO DID IT. WHO DID IT!’ Some light skinned dude in the crowd said, ‘GREGORY TONY DID IT!’ ”

“My step-father and me carried Hector to my mom’s van and then we drove him to the hospital,” Lagares said.

The Philadelphia police switchboard quickly lit up. Dispatch tapes and transcripts show that within two minutes 10 frantic callers reported the shooting, including the principal of nearby St. Bonaventure Parochial School. Within minutes, a police dispatcher put out over the air the name of the suspected killer: “Gregory Scott Tony.”

Police witness accounts dovetail with accounts of what happened provided to Florida Bulldog two years ago by Rodriguez’s mother, Norma Rodriguez, and his then-girlfriend, Maritza Carrasquillo. Both said Rodriguez and Tony were friends and that Rodriguez was unarmed.

TONY’S STORY

Tony has stated repeatedly that he shot in self-defense because Rodriguez was armed and had threatened to kill him and his family.

Tony’s concerns were not unfounded. The new police records contain a juvenile rap sheet for Rodriguez that shows he was arrested on drug and weapons charges in 1991 and for aggravated assault and firearms charges in 1992. The outcomes of those charges were not listed.

“When I was 14 years old, growing up in a neighborhood in Philadelphia filled with violence and gang activity, I shot an armed man in self-defense. The juvenile authorities reviewed my actions and cleared my name,” Tony wrote in an email to Florida Bulldog shortly before the initial story about the matter was published on May 2, 2020.

Philadelphia Inquirer May 5, 1993

“The press accounts at the time said we were friends, we were not. There are quotes from locals speculating on what may have happened. They were not there. They did not witness the terrified 14-year-old boy who thought his and his family’s life was in mortal danger try to protect that family.”

Later, in response to follow-up questions, Tony gave this account of the shooting, “The day of the incident, Hector, my brother and I were all in front of our house when we got into an argument. At one point, he pulled his gun threatening us, saying he didn’t have any issues with shooting us there. I remember how scared I was when he chased me and my brother into our house, I ran to grab my father’s gun and fired it before Hector was able to shoot his gun.”

A HOT HEAD WITH A SHORT FUSE

The newly released statements of eyewitnesses now paint a much different picture. No witness told police that Rodriguez pulled a gun, threatened anyone or chased Tony into his home where he grabbed a gun in desperation. Rather, the contemporaneous picture provided by witnesses is not of a terrified boy, but rather of a hot-headed young man with a short fuse, access to his father’s gun and a willingness to use it.

Police interviewed a number of police and civilian witnesses, including Tony’s father, William Scott, 63, with whom Tony lived. Scott stated he was inside his residence when he heard gunshots. People outside told him his son was involved in a fight with Rodriguez and had run away. Scott told police his handgun was missing.

An early police sketch made at the hospital of the wounds on Hector Rodriguez’s body.

“Scott voluntarily surrendered the empty gun box, numerous rounds of 32 cal. ammo and the sales receipt for the gun,” an affidavit says.

Rodriguez was pronounced dead at 4:01 p.m. at Episcopal Hospital “of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and body.” A police arrest report classified the crime as a “willful killing.”

THE AUTOPSY

An autopsy identified six bullet wounds in Rodriguez’s body, including two in the back of the head execution style. Rodriguez was also shot twice in the chest, once in the upper left side of the back and a “grazing” wound on the “mid upper back near the root of the neck.”

Five bullets were recovered and delivered to homicide, according to the report by Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Hydow Park. Toxicology tests showed no drugs or alcohol in Rodriguez’s body.

The four affidavits were soon used to arrest Tony on four counts: murder, possessing an instrument of crime, possession of an unlicensed firearm and carrying a firearm on a public street. The records show that police spelled Tony’s last name as Toney in charging documents, causing later confusion.

Each of the affidavits was signed by Philadelphia Homicide Detective Michael J. Gross and approved by Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Arlene Fisk.

William Scott told a local reporter that he learned an hour after the shooting that his son was the killer and called an attorney while his son was on the run. Asked later that day if he knew his son’s whereabouts, William Scott said, “No, I don’t. But I spoke to an attorney and he told me something about turning Greg in tomorrow at 9 a.m.”

TONY HELD IN MAXIMUM SECURITY

Tony surrendered to police the following morning in the company of attorney Marc Neff. The same day the case was assigned to the Family Court Division, Juvenile Section. Tony was remanded to the maximum-security unit of the city’s juvenile jail, the Youth Study Center.

“Juvenile offenses in Pennsylvania are considered acts of delinquency rather than a crime,” says the Florida ethics commission’s report of investigation. As a result, the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Gregory Tony was by law veiled in absolute secrecy for the next 27 years.

With the release of the eyewitness accounts about how and why Tony chose to kill, along with news about the autopsy findings and the recovery of the five of the slugs from Rodriguez’s body, the evidence against Tony seems formidable.

So how was Tony found not guilty of killing Rodriguez? The lack of juvenile court records about the case appears to make the answer unknowable.

Two years ago, Rodriguez’s girlfriend, Maritza Carrasquillo, offered one possibility. She told Florida Bulldog that her family, including an eyewitness to the shooting, had called the District Attorney’s Office to make sure they knew the family wanted to testify at Tony’s juvenile court trial. She said they were told they’d get a call back when they were needed. A call never came.

Whether that potential testimony was significant enough to change the outcome can’t be known.

But there is an answer as to why Tony was acquitted. And it comes from the D.A.’s Office via an official source:

The witnesses who saw Tony shoot and kill Rodriguez, at least some of whom were Tony’s friends, didn’t show up in court to testify.

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Latest comments

  • I’m shocked we are learning that Greg Tony may not have been completely honest about blowing someone’s brains out. I was sure Sheriff Honesty was being truthful about “the home invasion” that was about to take place. Let’s see do I run in the house, call 911or do I get a gun and put two in the back of his head? He chose Plan B. Home Invasion, give me a break. He was pissed so he killed him. I’m pretty sure a very smart person called BS on the home invasion story weeks ago, oh wait that was me. He executed that kid and when it was reported he did what he does best. Greg Tony is a sociopathic liar and came up with the “home invasion” story. I wonder what we’ll have to learn about Sheriff Integrity for Gov DeSantis to actually do his job. Someone better tell Greg Tony not to say anything negative about the abortion laws. Here’s my next crazy prediction. This story is being reported because of racism. The guy tells dozens and dozens of lies to a Governor and two million residents in Broward to become Sheriff, what’s the big deal. One of those lies happens to be about a Murder, you people need to relax. Here’s another shocking prediction. Gov DeSantis will hear about this one tiny little white lie by Sheriff LSD and he’ll do absolutely nothing about it. Luckily the next time a BSO Deputy gets in trouble Sheriff Suspended License will still be able to tell us how he holds his deputies accountable. Maybe Gov DeSantis can take a page from Sheriff Swinger and do his job. Gov DeSantis probably wishes he could put Sheriff Sharp Shooter on a plane to Martha’s Vineyard until after the election. Greg Tony is the gift that keeps on giving. Ok no more sarcasm. Stop and think for one second what Greg Tony has pulled off to be Sheriff. Ron DeSantis has no shame. This whole thing is a joke, an absolutely embarrassing joke to anyone in Law Enforcement. I think Gov DeSantis slept through Ethics class in law school.

  • One more comment. I just read the Investigative Notes. Ouch!

  • Now that’s an Impressive list nicknames Jerald.

  • Aside from the obvious, I would like to say thank you for the excellent reporting. Full of facts, verification of those facts and VERY well written. Journalism is not dead, it’s just so rare these days!

  • Great job with the nicknames Jerald. It’s not a lie if you believe it.

  • I so agree with Jerry Fuller. I personally have written in two letters to the editor months ago, which were never printed. How can a person who is in charge of one of the largest sheriff’s departments in the country be allowed to remain in office. Earlier articles stated the Coral Springs Police Chief stated he would have never hired this individual he this was known back when he was hired in Coral Spring. Police Standards which regulates and certifies police office for every police agency in the state should revoke his authority. Sheriff Tony violated every background investigation by lying on his applications, using drugs and committingly wa a homicide (which never was reported on is applications).

    I can’t believe the citizenry of Broward County does not petition for his removal or do they want a liar to lead Broward County. Oh well that is the way society is today as the liberals will say that was when he was a juvenile etc. I read an editorial two days ago where some guy stated we should just let it go and move on. This person is exactly what is wrong with our society today. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!

  • The Sheriff of Broward County, Florida basically executed someone in Philly because he was mad at him. What’s the big deal? I’m glad he’s still around to tell us about integrity when he fires a Deputy for getting a DUI. You guys are being too tough on Sheriff .38 Special. And to be fair having that many arrests is probably very confusing. Rest easy , Gov DeSantis is all over this. 🤪

  • I just spoke to Gov DeSantis and asked him when he was removing Sheriff Tony. He said, “Who’s Sheriff Tony” and hung up. Very strange.

  • Thats funny because I called him too and he told me, “he’s not my sheriff,” and hung up on me as well. Hope he doesn’t find out I’m a hard working white guy with a family to support, because he’ll fly down and try to remove me from my own company, while making some stupid speech about doing it for Florida.

  • Ron was elected in Nov 2018 by 30,000+ votes, and Gillam had little experience, except mayor. Crist will be next FL governor if voters of all persuasions turn out. Either way, each only gets one term. Don’t want Ron campaigning for prez on our nickel or time clock.

  • BREAKING NEWS…Andrew Pollack (father of MSD victim R.I.P.), just got off the phone with Governor DeSantis, and recommended another top name as a replacement for Tony/Toney; let’s all welcome Broward’s next incoming Sheriff…Stormy Daniels!!! Thanks Andy!

  • Someone better tell Louis Baptiste, Sheriff Hypocrite’s lawyer that Sheriff Hypocrite never had a case expunged in the courts. Kind of ruins his defense on the FDLE Form 68 issue.

  • Doesn’t sound like the Tallahassee dream team has any steam left. In the hearing all they did is parrot and agree with that militant liar Hadley, who should also be stripped of her law license for blatantly ignoring facts and duty, saying Lynx did nothing wrong. When 8 others adamantly felt otherwise. Im also keeping track of names of the ones like Hadley who are showing their true colors when it comes to a black person in hot water. People used to at least bob and weave when it came to blatantly giving someone a pass based solely on race. Hadley and many others aren’t even trying to hide that there’s nothing they won’t do or say to further their agenda. Lots of good, talented black professionals out there. These militant frauds are setting the good ones back decades. PS- Ain’t looking good for Toney Lynx. But even if he’s removed, Broward will vote him back in if the Feds dont do their job on that bid rigging they know he’s guilty of.

  • Why is it that when a black man shows power,the politians comes up with something else, all I know G.Tony did the right Dam thing and y’all wouldn’t here this story of it was a white man killing another white man,authority you will see Satan soon mark my words

  • The State Attorney in Lee County who passed on charging Sheriff Sharp Shooter should be recognized for her honest review of his case. I think her name is Amira Fox. I’m sure she wasn’t taking her orders from Gov DeSantis. It’s good to know our elected leaders are above corruption. I’m starting to think I have a negative view of Sheriff Cash Only/No Checks Please.

  • Just to truthful & funny 🤣😂

  • Our father who art in Washington. People are pathetic. Politicians have got you all full of hate.

  • If any real cop made a simple mistake on an FDLE form they would be fired immediately. What is up here?

  • Jeff, if I’m not mistaken you strongly supported Gov DeSantis to remove Sheriff Israel? Then we get Sheriff Scumbag. Then ironically you got terminated for doing your job. If Broward County wants to elect this turd again it gets what it deserves. I also hope you are successful in your wrongful termination lawsuit, you didn’t deserve it.

  • Lynx Toney has made a lifetime of being the filthiest most degenerate lying predator he can possibly be. I just read 90 pages of sworn documentation generated when this asshole was still a teenager and you can see that even at that age, he was a seasoned criminal with no hesitation in grabbing a gun and aiming it at his good friends head, and pulling the trigger until the victim stopped twitching in the street. Many interviewed referred to Chino as killer Lynx’s best friend, including his father. Lynx has gotten nothing but worse over the years. He has cold, beady eyes and a disposition as a cold blooded killer with ZERO remorse- and it appears he’d do it again if he felt like it. And to his supporters. Talking to the man today is like talking to a convict over at Rayford Prison, here in Florida. Look at his enraged blow-ups, talking to commisioners or even his own people at a cops funeral. He can’t control himself and doesn’t make any attempt to. The shooting was allegedly so traumatic to him, but when asked to explain why everyone called Chino his friend, he answered in three words with a dark stare. “He was not.” Answered the same way when asked about witnesses, “They were not there.” Lynx is more than comfortable in a jail cell, lying his azz off. He has been allowed to get away with it his entire life. Hes a nasty, predator looking for his next victim. And that victim is Broward County. Thanks Desantis. We have long memories buddy.

  • JERALD FULLER / SEPTEMBER 19, 2022 1:44 PM
    Jeff, if I’m not mistaken you strongly supported Gov DeSantis to remove Sheriff Israel? Then we get Sheriff Scumbag. Then ironically you got terminated for doing your job. If Broward County wants to elect this turd again it gets what it deserves. I also hope you are successful in your wrongful termination lawsuit, you didn’t deserve it.
    The problem is when Jeff was the IUPA Union leader and one Deputy was thrown under the train. He joined the beat down of a 32year veteran. He just like Jeff was doing their job and did nothing wrong, and a lie told by a sheriff put honorable public servants in the same sandbox. While both sheriffs still have not come out and admitted that they screwed over their Deputies for serf serving political gain.
    Just like the stories about tony/toney are just now starting to get traction, I have been saying it from the first week the murdering, LSD using, lying, bullying, and public trust abuser was appointed. Accountability needs to start on all politicians that fail to do the right thing and hide like punks when the seeds they sewed come back.
    Does anyone care about the 34 victims and countless others whose lives have changed forever?
    They watch the circus of the shitbag’s sentencing, which will be in the courts for 30yrs or so, if given death and the shitbag will be in protected custody. If the state gave him life 4yrs ago, the problem would have been solved already. If Retired Deputy Scot Peterson goes to trial the victims will be told the truth for the first time, about 2-14-22. The story that leads up to the shooting so far are all fixable issues, but Columbine was 23 years ago, and its still not fixed.

  • DEE HICKS / SEPTEMBER 17, 2022 8:44 PM
    Why is it that when a black man shows power,the politians comes up with something else, all I know G.Tony did the right Dam thing.
    Mr. Hicks, why would you bring up the race into this? When tony/toney is a proven liar, perjurer, bully, and abuser of honorable staff and states almost daily he “will hold his people accountable”. when he has been proven repeatedly that most of his discipline was WRONG, and review boards and his staff as well as the court system for a guy who lied to get all of his jobs. I believe he should be jailed for any one of his perjury cases and maybe he would stop. But, for some reason lying to CSPD is one thing but lying to the Governor and victimizing the MSD victims again, is a whole new level of self-serving abuse. He is trying to destroy an honorable Deputy Ron Thurston (a black public servant) because he hurt tony/toney ego, sadly he was right because Ron was a union rep, who tried to give 20+ of service experience to advise that the people who he (tony/toney) had been abusing and bullying staff that was trying to help him. tony/toney refused any constructive criticum. He is a self-serving bully and should be removed and pay every penny of tax dollars back. Humble and true will make him better. But, no one is standing up to him because of his history of firing and lying about them. Has nothing to do with race it is a character issue. Most public servants (all races) are top-shelf.

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