Florida man allegedly killed estranged girlfriend because he was worried she’d take their kids

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul2,2024

HAINES CITY, Fla. (TCN) — Police recently arrested a man on suspicion of killing his 29-year-old estranged girlfriend near the restaurant where she worked.

According to Haines City Police Chief Gregory Goreck, on the morning of Sunday, June 30, officers responded to the area near La Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant to reports of shots fired. Goreck said the victim, identified by WFLA-TV as Yahorany “Nani” Popoca, also called 911 and “courageously” described the suspect, Rolando Zarate.

Popoca reportedly told police Zarate, the father of her children, was her estranged boyfriend of at least seven years.

Officers arrived at the scene and attempted lifesaving measures, but Popoca was transported to a hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.

According to Goreck, witnesses provided details of the suspect’s Ford Mustang, and officials issued a Be on the Lookout (BOLO) alert. Shortly after, a Winter Haven Police K-9 officer located the car, and the vehicle was stopped. Zarate fled on foot, but Winter Haven Police officers eventually took him into custody.

Zarate reportedly confessed to the crime and told detectives he was worried his estranged girlfriend was going to “take their children from him.” Police said Zarate admitted to disposing of the gun he used, which they later recovered. Zarate also allegedly drove away from the scene following the shooting.

Zarate faces charges of 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, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.

Zarate has a criminal past, including allegations of domestic battery involving his estranged girlfriend, possession of cocaine, DUI, possession of methamphetamine, violation of injunction, battery, aggravated battery, and other traffic charges.

In a statement, Goreck said, “This is a tragic and needless loss of life! Our hearts go out to the victim’s family and loved ones.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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