Caribbean Unity Center Shooting Death of St. Croix’s Juan Carlos Ilarraza Remains Unsolved In Orlando
ORLANDO — Police are still looking for answers as to why a former St. Croix resident who was wanted for murder here was shot to death earlier this year in Orange County, Florida.
About 3:20 a.m. on April 8, deputies responded to a shooting outside the Caribbean Unity Center nightclub in the Pine Hills community just outside of Orlando, Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Angelo Nieves said.
When deputies arrived, they discovered the incident was a double homicide, Nieves said.
Juan Carlos Ilarraza, 26, and Akeyl Jahmal Dennis, 33, were the two victims, he said.
Ilarraza was wanted for murder in St. Croix during in connection with an armed robbery of a man with gold medallion. He was arrested in March in Orlando but later released. Less than a month later, he was dead.
The shooting happened in front of the nightclub in the Silver Pines Village shopping center. Yellow crime scene tape blocked off most of the parking lot Saturday morning.
Early investigations indicate the shooting happened after a fight in the nightclub spilled out into the parking lot, where shots were fired, Nieves said.
The unidentified man was found dead in the Caribbean Unity Center’s parking lot. Ilarraza had fled the scene in a vehicle after he was shot.
Orlando Police Department officers found Ilarraza in his car about 2-1/5 miles away, according to Nieves. Medics took him to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he later died.
Nieves said no other injuries were reported, but that doesn’t necessarily mean no one else was hurt in the shooting.
“There could be someone at home self-treating,” Nieves said.
When he was 19, Illarraza was charged after attempting to buy groceries with counterfeit bills on St. Croix. In 2011, when Illarraza was 21, he was sought by police in Winter Haven, Fla., for an armed robbery police said he committed in the company of one of his cousins; and in 2014, when Illarraza was 24, he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Orange County, Fla., by the sheriff’s department and members of the U.S. Marshals Service and extradited to St. Croix to face charges in the slaying of Wellington Pennyfeather Jr., who was gunned down during an argument. Robbery charges were later added in the case. The outcome of his cases was not clear at presstime.
As for Saturday’s double homicide, detectives have no one in custody and are seeking the public’s help in identifying suspects and finding out what caused the fight.
“There were a lot of people in the club,” Nieves said. “We know there are witnesses out there.”
Those with information about the incident can call Crimeline to report tips anonymously at 1-(800) 423-8477. Crimeline tipsters may be eligible for cash rewards.