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Tragic Fatal Shooting Near La Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant in Haines City, Suspect Arrested

Tragic Fatal Shooting Near La Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant in Haines City, Suspect Arrested
Rolando Guevara Zarate (Photo courtesy of Haines City Police)

Tragic Fatal Shooting Near La Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant in Haines City, Suspect Arrested

By Ciara Perez, News Reporter | iSkyCreations - News & Media (ISC)

Published July 1st, 2024

HAINES CITY, FL. – A tragic incident unfolded yesterday morning near La Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant when a fatal shooting claimed the life of a 29-year-old woman. The Haines City Police Department (HCPD) swiftly responded to the scene, leading to the arrest of the suspect, Rolando Guevara Zarate.

The distressing events began around 10:55 AM when HCPD received a 911 call about a shooting in the restaurant’s parking lot. Additional calls followed, confirming the severity of the situation. The victim herself managed to call 911, identifying Zarate, her estranged boyfriend of at least seven years and the father of her children, as the shooter.

By 10:58 AM, police units were on the scene, where they found the victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Witnesses described the suspect’s vehicle, a burgundy Ford Mustang, prompting an immediate alert to surrounding agencies. Officers provided first aid to the victim as the search for Zarate began.

At 11:18 AM, a K-9 officer from the Winter Haven Police Department spotted the suspect’s vehicle entering their area. With the help of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit, the vehicle was stopped, but Zarate attempted to flee on foot. He was quickly apprehended by Winter Haven officers. The vehicle was seized for evidence, and a rifle was found inside, for which a search warrant is being obtained.

Despite the prompt response from emergency services and hospital staff, the victim was pronounced dead at approximately 12:03 PM.

“This is a tragic and needless loss of life. Our hearts go out to the victim’s family and loved ones,” said Chief Greg Goreck. “I commend the coordinated efforts of our officers and the cooperation with the Winter Haven Police Department and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, which led to the swift apprehension of a suspect we believe to have carried out these heinous acts.”

Detectives are now processing multiple scenes and continuing to interview Zarate, who has confessed to the crime. He claimed he was concerned the victim was going to take their children from him. Zarate also admitted to disposing of the firearm while fleeing the scene, and a weapon matching his description has been recovered.

Zarate has a history of domestic violence allegations involving the victim, as well as charges for possession of cocaine, DUI, possession of methamphetamine, violation of injunction, battery, aggravated battery, and various misdemeanor traffic offenses.

He now faces several charges, including:

  • First Degree Murder

  • Aggravated Stalking

  • Violation of an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence

  • Discharging a Firearm in Public

  • Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence

  • Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device

As part of the ongoing investigation, Haines City Police will review all interactions between the suspect and the victim leading up to this tragic event to ensure all protocols were followed.

The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information is urged to contact the Haines City Police Department at (863) 421-3636. Those wishing to remain anonymous can reach out to Heartland Crime Stoppers at (888) 400-8477.


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