Multiple sources and our own research tell us that the shooting victim from this morning was Christo Maccius (25), a West Boca High graduate. Three sources told us that he worked at the school, with one providing more detail:
He was a substitute and shadow for children with special needs.
The shooting happened in or near the Sandalfoot Square plaza and O’Connor’s Pub. The Palm Beach Post has ongoing updates on the story, including resident concerns about high crime and a report that the shooter had a long-standing grudge against Maccius.
Last year we reported on another shooting at or near the same location.
All photos are from Facebook messages, comments, or pages.
From what we can see on Facebook and other sources Maccius had many friends in the community, and will be missed.
We reached out to both PBSO and the school for more information but so far have not received any response. As of this moment we believe the shooter has not been caught. We do not have any identity yet either. Warning: The photo below may be disturbing to some readers. Do not scroll down if you are sensitive to such things.
And please note that many of the negative comments posted on this article (below) appear to be “trolling.” Some have been deleted and/or blocked from future comments.
Second Update: We have heard from multiple sources that the reason Western Beef closed was a listeria problem was found during an inspection. We have NOT been able to verify this with government agencies despite a significant effort including calls to the FDA and the county. We did learn that listeria contamination is a potentially significant problem at deli counters and one of our sources did say that the problem was at the store’s deli. We do not think the store’s explanation (see below) is credible but we don’t have any solid proof that it’s false.
Update: We received a call from the main office in New York (Ben Petrofsky – general counsel). He said that the fire in late August required a lot of work to be done and that it should be open again this weekend (roughly October 25th). He did not have an explanation for the lack of public notice, and he denied that there was any emergency closing on October 15th.
Several days ago readers notified us that the Western Beef store in Sandalfoot Square was closed. We have made substantial efforts to find out what is going on and have not come up with anything solid as of yet. We don’t know if the closure is temporary or permanent, and we don’t know why.
We have tried calling the store several times and there is no answer on the phone, not even a machine. Today we spoke with the Pembroke Pines store manager. He said he knows nothing about it. We also tried the Lake Worth store but could not get the manager on the phone. We called the main office in New York, a few days ago and again today. We could not get a live person on the phone and left a few messages.
Our first notice of this was October 15th, from a reader:
Shopping at western beef tonight & we had to leave before we were finished. They said they had to close because of an emergency. It was only 8:00 & they close normally at 10:00.
Readers have advanced a wide variety of theories to explain the closure. One reader said it was due to health inspectors. We don’t think that’s it, but we did see that they failed a health inspection in late September.
We searched that inspection database and this was the only failure we could find for any store in West Boca in the records. But that was late September so it doesn’t seem like an explanation for the store closing over two weeks later.
Another theory relates to a fire that happened in the store, and perhaps that they’re remodeling. But that was even longer ago, in late August.
One of the more popular ideas is that the closure is somehow mafia related. That one is mildly amusing, but doesn’t make a lot of sense to us because other stores in the chain remain open. Organized crime allegations about Western Beef have been made before.
One regular reader advanced a “gas leak” theory:
There was a gas leak. They have to replace all the pipes. No mafia stuff.
Responding to another reader’s questioning, the reader asserted it was “it was in the paper. Try reading it.” But we have searched and searched and haven’t found anything like that. And as was pointed out in response, gas leaks typically cause an evacuation of entire plazas. There was no such incident. With that said, the gas leak idea does fit with the original reader telling us it was an emergency.
Readers also offered another theory – that the closure is related to the Loxahatchee animal cruelty bust. The timing for that one is close. The scandal involves selling horse meat for human consumption in South Florida. But considering that the Pembroke Pines store remains open, this doesn’t quite fit.
For now the Western Beef closure remains a mystery. Why is it closed? Is it temporary or permanent?
Why would a chain supermarket close suddenly with no public notice other than a handwritten sign taped to the door? Why isn’t the store’s main office responding to inquiries?
Hopefully we will get answers soon.
Deputies made an arrest today in the Sandalfoot Square purse snatcher case. Graccuhs Mesidor, 24, was arrested in full view of one of our regular readers who sent us the above photo.
Mr. Mesidor faces charges of robbery, aggravated battery, larceny and marijuana possession. We are aware of at least one previous arrest for fraud back in July of 2014. He remains in custody at this writing.
Seven West Boca pizza places topped our survey and the winner in a close call is Brooklyn Boys in Shadowood Square. Brooklyn Boys had the highest number of “Great” votes and the highest weighted average vote with 4.01. More details are below with full results at bottom.
The ratings were set up with 5 as Great, 3 as Average, and 1 as Terrible; 4 and 2 were not specifically identified but we would call them good and poor, respectively.
Coming in a very close second was Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in the Shoppes at Boca Grove on Powerline, with a weighted average of 3.99. Third place went to Mama’s Pizza and Pasta in Hampton Square (Kimberly between 441 and Lyons) with a 3.93.
Three others were in a virtual tie for fourth place including Thick & Thin in Sandalfoot Square (3.88), Domenic’s II in Westwinds of Boca near Home Depot (3.87) and Nino’s on Beracasa Way (3.86). In seventh place with a still respectable 3.80 was Stella’s in Boca Greens.
Mama’s is the only one of the top seven we haven’t tried yet but we hope to get there soon. We’ve tried the other six and like them all. Brooklyn Boys, Anthony’s and Thick & Thin can all be insanely busy at times. Anthony’s is the best sit-down experience. Thick & Thin is okay for sit-down if you can get a table. Stella’s has become our regular for delivery.
After Stella’s there was a significant drop to #8 Dominic’s (Glades near Boca Rio) with a 3.58. All others scored below 3.50.
Other notes about the survey and the results:
Several people mentioned Tony Dell’s on Sandalfoot Blvd. It closed a few months ago. In its place is the new City Boys Pizza which had a perfect zero violations in their licensing inspection last week.
We asked readers about East Boca pizza places in the comments at the bottom of the survey. The ones mentioned the most were Tomasso’s on Palmetto Park just east of I-95, Boca’s Best at Dixie and Palmetto Park, Tucci’s near Mizner Park, Renzo’s and Augy’s. In the rest of South Florida, Primanti Brothers in Fort Lauderdale was mentioned the most along with Mellow Mushroom (Delray and maybe West Palm Beach).
At the bottom of the survey Chuck E Cheese had by far the worst rated pizza with a 1.45. Over two-thirds of the 303 people who rated it called it terrible, and only seven rated it better than average.
Five others were rated worse than a 2:
Sweet Tomatoes (Beracasa) — 1.99
Papa John’s (Glades near Boca Rio) — 1.93
Domino’s (Boca Grove) — 1.81
Strike’s Bowling — 1.77
Pizza Hut (St. Andrews) — 1.75
The Pizza Hut on 441 near SW 18th squeaked by with a 2.05, and the dubious distinction of having the second highest number of “terrible” votes. National delivery chain Papa John’s on 441 near Sandalfoot had 299 votes with a 2.13. The Domino’s in Mission Bay had a 2.17.
In the mediocre category, The Meatball Room scored a perfectly average 3.00 in the survey though it only got a total of 129 votes. Rotelli’s in Mission Bay had 300 votes averaging 2.86. Mama’s NYC in Logger’s Run had a 2.47, though the ownership changed recently and it’s unclear how many votes were based on the previous owner.
Below is a PDF of the survey results, and at bottom is our spreadsheet:
We previously reported on an alleged bank robbery of the Wells Fargo in Sandalfoot Square. The man accused in that incident, Ronel Laurent (above, 46), was arrested again Monday accused of Grand Theft of a motor vehicle. This arrest was made by Boca Raton city police.
Court records indicate that Mr. Laurent is being held without bond pending a mental health assessment. Both cases have been assigned to the Veterans Court division, and he’s scheduled to appear in front of Judge Kelley on Thursday morning.
The Wells Fargo Bank in Sandalfoot Cove was the scene of an attempted bank robbery yesterday. Multiple readers tipped us off and one sent us some photos. As usual we keep our tipsters and photographers anonymous unless they request to be identified.
Above you can see deputies in the process of arresting a man wearing blue. The blotter shows Ronel Laurent (mugshot below) arrested for robbery and booked yesterday up in West Palm Beach around 9 pm, which is roughly consistent with the timing of our first tip, around 5 pm.
Also, the mugshot shows him wearing roughly the same blue that the person being arrested is wearing in that photo at top. Mr. Laurent’s reported address is in Boca Trails, just south of Judge Winikoff near 441. It appears to be a rental.
The Wells Fargo Bank is in the Sandalfoot Square plaza close to the intersection of 441 and Sandalfoot, less than a mile on foot from Mr. Laurent’s reported address.
We see no previous history for Mr. Laurent in Palm Beach County. However, we do see a felony battery case from Coconut Creek, in Broward, from 1999. When he’s not allegedly robbing banks or hitting people, he appears to work in asset management for a loan servicing company based in Miami-Dade County.
Here are a couple more scene pictures from our reader/tipster: