Courts & Crime

Miami police search for Special Olympics athlete's killer

Danny Perez's bedroom was covered with all the awards he won in the Special Olympics. Among his favorite sports: cycling.

It was while he was riding his bike that Perez's life came to a sudden, violent end. The 36-year-old was fatally shot riding west on Northwest 79th Street toward his home in Hialeah.

Perez, Miami-Dade police said, was an innocent victim.

On Wednesday, his family and friends asked anybody with information that could help to come forward.

"I hope that someone can help us find the criminal," said his mother, Gricel Mursuli, 62. "It was my son, but tomorrow it could be your son."

Perez, born developmentally disabled, graduated from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School. Afterward, he stayed at his alma matter, working with the sports teams and becoming an assistant coach.

"Even with his disability, he was still always positive," said his sister, Gricel Gonzalez, 27.

He was a fixture at Hialeah's Edgar J. Hall Special Population Center. It was there that Perez trained for the Special Olympics, traveling across the state and competing in multiple sports, including basketball, power lifting and cycling.

He was a serious competitor, and his sister recalled how disappointed Perez was in himself when he took second place in a cycling event a few years ago in Tampa.

In 2008, Perez received the Inspirational Athlete of the Year Award from the Special Olympics of Miami-Dade County.

That year, Perez told The Miami Herald, "You have to have a good heart and train hard to be a winner."

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