TORONTO - The teenage son of a Canadian diplomat remained in youth custody Thursday suspected of being an accessory to murder but had not been formally charged, Florida state authorities said.
Marc Wabafiyebazu, 15, of Ottawa, was arrested on Monday after a shootout that left two people dead, including his older brother Jean, and another injured.
"The case has just started," Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney, told The Canadian Press.
"We're evaluating all of our legal options at this point."
When and what formal charges might be laid had not been decided and Wabafiyebazu had not been arraigned, he said.
Other decisions to be made — if he is prosecuted — include whether to try him as a youth or an adult.
"Given the potential implications to some of this, we will very carefully make the appropriate charging decision but we have time," Griffith said.
"The whole matter is under review."
The Wabafiyebazu brothers had only recently moved to Florida to be with their mother, Roxanne Dube, an experienced diplomat who became Canada's consul general in Miami six weeks ago.
Miami police had reportedly charged Wabafiyebazu, who turned 15 two weeks ago, with felony murder — a charge that implies indirect involvement in the actual killing — but neither police nor state authorities were immediately able to confirm that.
According to the arrest affidavit, police responding to a shooting found a dead person inside a home with "what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds" and Jean Wabafiyebazu, who had been shot at least once and died in hospital.
Citing witnesses, police allege that Jean Wabafiyebazu, 17, had called Anthony Rodriguez, 19, of Miami, about buying 900 grams of marijuana. Rodriguez then drove to the home, as did the Wabafiyebazu brothers, who reportedly used their mother's BMW with diplomatic licence plates.
Rodriguez and the older brother went inside to make the deal while the younger brother waited outside the apartment complex, according to police and local reports.
"During the negotiations, both deceased victims became involved in an exchange of gunfire," according to the complaint against Rodriguez, who police have charged with second-degree murder and possession of marijuana for the purposes of trafficking.
Two others, including Rodriguez, were shot and injured in the melee.
Investigators also accuse Marc Wabafiyebazu of allegedly threatening to kill an officer by shooting him in the head at Miami police headquarters.
In the most severe circumstances, Wabafiyebazu's sentence would have to end when he turns 23 if convicted as a juvenile. If convicted as an adult, he could face a much harsher sentence, but not the death penalty.
On Wednesday, the teens' father Germano Wabafiyebazu, who is divorced from their mother, said he had warned them about the potential risks of life in Miami and wanted them to stay in Ottawa, where they were born and raised.
"I don't know very many young people their age who wouldn't want to move to Miami," he told The Canadian Press.
"It's sad that it turned out this way. They were very happy."