By Kevin Deutsch
The man who killed an 8-year-old girl in a stray-bullet shooting in Palm Beach County was arrested at the home of two local rap stars in Coral Springs Monday, authorities said.
Andrew Thomas, 20, of West Palm Beach, was captured inside the house that Florida-based TikTok rap duo the Island Boys are currently renting. The bust happened three days after the Feb. 4 slaying of little Ronziyah Atkins, known as Ziyah, police records show.
Atkins was playing with her cousins and siblings near her front porch in the 500 block of Southeast First Street, in Belle Glade, when Thomas allegedly opened fire from a passing car, apparently seeking to hit a different target, authorities said.
Atkins died at a Palm Beach County hospital, and her killer went on the lam. With the help of “cooperating witnesses,” investigators identified Thomas as the drive-by gunman and tracked him to Heron Bay in Coral Springs, according to a press release issued by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
“This investigation has been tirelessly investigated by PBSO Violent Crimes Division detectives and Gang Unit detectives for the last three days,” the PBSO release states. “With the assistance of cooperating witnesses, a suspect was identified…With the assistance of Coral Springs Police Department, a search warrant was executed…Coral Springs PD currently had charges on the suspect and affected an arrest. PBSO was able to locate significant evidence to get an arrest warrant signed by a judge.”
Coral Springs Police SWAT Team helped PBSO detectives serve a search warrant at the home at 6375 N.W. 120th Dr., according to an arrest affidavit.
While executing the warrant, SWAT members said they saw a man later identified as Thomas get up off the living room couch and run toward the front of the house as they knocked on the door.
After speaking with the home’s occupants, Island Boys rappers and identical twins Franky and Alex Venegas, “it was determined that [Thomas] had grabbed a black Glock handgun with an extended magazine from the living room when SWAT team members were announcing their presence,” the affidavit states.
Alex Venegas told police that when Thomas heard the SWAT Team knocking, the accused killer ran toward him holding the Glock.
“[Venegas] stated that [Thomas] tried to give him the gun and told him to hide it,” police wrote.
Venegas did not take the gun and told Thomas “to get away from him,” according to the affidavit.
Venegas said he then saw Thomas run into the hallway leading to the laundry room, and return without the gun.
While searching the home, detectives found the black Glock 19 in the laundry room closet with around 13 bullets inside, police said.
A records check revealed Thomas was a convicted felon on probation for armed robbery until June 2026, the affidavit states.
Thomas is charged with First-Degree Murder with a Firearm, Attempted First-Degree Murder with a Firearm, Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Probation Violation, records show.
Thomas was booked into the Broward Main Jail on the Coral Springs charges and held without bond for PBSO.
Police said Thomas waived his rights and spoke with PBSO detectives.
He also spoke with a Coral Springs Police detective and told him “the gun wasn’t his,” records show. Thomas did not explain why he had the Glock in his possession, or why he hid it in the laundry room, police said.
“It takes teamwork to remove dangerous criminals off the streets,” Coral Springs police said in a Facebook post. “The little 8-year old victim deserves justice. The Coral Springs Police send condolences to the victim’s family.”
The Island Boys have not been implicated in the investigation into Atkins’ killing, according to WPBF.
The owner of the home where the arrest happened had no comment Tuesday. The home sold for $1.2 million in May, records show.
The Island Boys’ manager, Dovi Bezner, told WPBF that Thomas is a childhood friend of the Island Boys and showed up at the home a few nights ago, sleeping on their couch in the period before his arrest.
“We had no idea any of this was going on, really,” Bezner said. “We just knew him as a quiet kid, and he would come and hang out and do his thing and go back to whatever he got going on, but we had no clue about any of these allegations toward him. We just knew him as a good person, someone who grew up with the Island Boys.”
PBSO officials said the investigation into Atkins’ homicide is ongoing.
The agency had previously announced a $25,000 reward for tips leading to her killer’s capture.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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