UPDATE: Charges dropped against accused gunman in Boynton murder

Less than 12 hours after Branden Frederick was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on first-degree murder charges in connection to the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old woman, Boynton Beach police have dropped their case against him.

Police said additional investigation by officers on Friday revealed “exculpatory evidence” and that they are acting “out of an abundance of caution” in releasing the 30-year-old Lake Worth man. Frederick was fingered by two anonymous sources and a confidential informant as the man who shot Curtisia Courtney Smith on April 5. Smith died Monday, 12 days after the “targeted attack,” police said.

City police did not offer an explanation as to what the new evidence uncovered.

“Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, we cannot elaborate any further except to say that we will continue to work tirelessly to bring Ms. Smith’s shooter to justice,” wrote Stephanie Slater, the public information officer for city police, in a news release.

Frederick was arrested Thursday night on charges of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm as a felon in the April 5 shooting at Z Food Meat Market, on North Seacrest Boulevard north of West Boynton Beach Boulevard. He made his first appearance in court Friday and was initially ordered to be held without bail. Later in the day, an order for his release was issued.

Roderick Taylor, 24, was arrested Monday in connection to the fatal shooting as well. Taylor also is being held without bond at the jail.

Surveillance-camera footage from the Z Food Meat Mart shows a man shoot Smith at point-blank range several times. In the video, the man’s face is covered with a bandana.

Unnamed witnesses told investigators the gunman was Frederick and identified him in a photo lineup. A confidential informant told police they did not recognize the shooter, but the individual pointed them out in photo lineup.

Police records do not mention a suspected motive for the shooting.

Surveillance footage from the market reportedly shows subtle exchanges between the gunman and Taylor before the shooting. At one point, Taylor appears to motion his head toward Smith, who is walking toward the shooter.

The gunman then fires five rounds at Smith, police said. Detectives recovered five 9mm shell casings from the scene.

Video reportedly captured Smith falling to the ground and two men running from the store with guns in their hands. At no other point in the report do police mention Taylor having a gun.

Anonymous sources told police those men were “Rat Mike” and “Sheep Head.” Boynton Beach police knew Taylor goes by “Rat Mike,” and nearby police agencies helped city officials piece together that Frederick was “Sheep Head,” according to a police report.

The confidential police informant told police that a black car pulled up behind the market that night, and that “Rat Mike” and another man walked out. “Rat Mike” was shaking people’s hands and asking where Smith was, the source said.

A few minutes later , the source heard gunshots and saw “Rat Mike” and the other man run.

Taylor served two terms in state prison on robbery, fleeing and eluding and burglary convictions. He was most recently released in 2016.

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