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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Sgt. Chris Reyka was shot to death in Pompano Beach the key missing piece of evidence in the Reyka case: the gun that killed him.

Sgt. Chris Reyka was shot to death in Pompano Beach, one path seemed promising.It led police north past the Walgreens parking lot where Reyka was ambushed to a dead-end street in Collier City. On the map, it's called Northwest Ninth Street. On the street, it's called ''The Hole'' -- one of the last pockets untouched by progress in this community that rose from Broward County's old bean fields.For months, BSO detectives, along with agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, have been working these fields, hoping to harvest the key missing piece of evidence in the Reyka case: the gun that killed him.They've been in and out of this community because Timothy Johnson -- who police say masterminded a series of drugstore holdups that have made him a ''person of interest'' in Reyka's slaying -- called The Hole home.Johnson's attorney, Michael Gottlieb, has said his client denies any involvement in Reyka's killing.Gottlieb said circumstance, a checkered past and his siblings' alleged involvement in hiding the gun that shot Reyka are not enough to indict Timothy Johnson.''If the sheriff's office had gathered information and had probable cause to believe he was involved in the shooting, they would have arrested and indicted him for it,'' Gottlieb said.And for investigators, the lack of evidence has been frustrating.''The pattern of the drugstores fit perfectly with the crime,'' Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said recently. But, Lamberti has noted, without evidence linking Johnson to Reyka's shooting, the pattern is just coincidence.
In December, investigators believed they were close. Acting on a search warrant, police recovered three guns tied to Johnson's brother and are looking for a fourth. But they say they do not have the gun that killed Reyka.And so far, this lead, like Northwest Ninth itself, appears to be heading to a dead end.
Not too many people here want to talk about Timothy Johnson or his long criminal history. He has more than a dozen arrests on charges ranging from auto theft to armed robbery.Johnson's family would not speak to Miami Herald reporters, and in The Hole, friends would say only that Johnson is ``a good guy.''
This rough neighborhood is a stone's throw from the once notorious drive-by crack market near Northwest 18th Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard, known as ``Ugly Corner.''



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