"We did it!" were the first words at a late night news conference Wednesday when police announced that they had charged James Patrick Wonder of Miramar with the murder of Federal Agent Donald Pettit, according to CBS affiliate WFOR-TV in Miami.
"We told you we would get you," Pembroke Pines Deputy Chief Mike Segarra said as officers and supporters burst into sustained applause.
Wonder, 65, was detained without incident after a SWAT team and dozens of officers surrounded a shopping center in this community about 10 miles from Fort Lauderdale, said Pembroke Pines Deputy Police Chief Mike Segarra.
More than 400 law enforcement officers and at least two Blackhawk helicopters had been scouring South Florida for the suspect in the killing of 52-year-old customs agent Donald Pettit.
The agent was with his 12-year-old daughter when he was shot during a fight Tuesday morning in a post office's parking lot in nearby Pembroke Pines. Authorities did not immediately know if Wonder, a Miramar resident, had an attorney.
Police received an anonymous tip that led to Wonder's arrest, but Segarra said Pettit's daughter was instrumental in identifying him.
"She's the star," Segarra said. "She is strong. She is something else. With her, and the tip we received, justice was served."
Earlier Wednesday, Pettit's widow, Ileana, pleaded for help in finding her husband's killer. She later thanked the people who turned in more than 500 tips to authorities.
"Thank you, thank you everyone," said Pettit's widow, Ileana, who stood with police investigators struggling to hold back tears, reports WFOR. "The public, the media, all these people behind me, these law enforcement people, volunteers. You did it, you did it. You found this man."