Jonathan Schuler, a West Palm Beach resident and day laborer at a Deerfield Beach construction site, was arrested on March 8 for allegedly attacking and killing his co-worker Arcenio Alvarez of Lake Worth. Schuler, 32, faces a premeditated murder charge. He was booked into a Broward jail. News sources did not name an attorney for him.
According to news sources, the attack occurred on Wednesday morning at a construction site at 700 W. Hillsboro Boulevard in Deerfield Beach. News reports are still unclear about what exactly happened. Investigators claim Schuler struck Alvarez, 32, with a crowbar twice over the head, but witnesses reportedly saw Alvarez get struck twice over the head with an ax.
Orrin Scott, who witnessed the attack, told the press that he saw two men with crowbars running after another man who had an ax. He said the attack was unprovoked. Other witnesses shared similar stories with the press. After witnessing the attack, several construction workers subdued Schuler as they waited for police from Broward Sheriff’s Office and paramedics to arrive.
Alvarez was taken to Broward Health North, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later. He is survived by his wife and 3-year-old son. Schuler was also taken to Broward Health North for “various medical reasons.” He was discharged and booked into jail some hours later. It is unclear who the third man, the one with the crowbar whom Orrin Scott reported seeing, remained at the scene or spoke to authorities.
Investigators have cordoned off the area and are questioning all of the workers individually to try and piece together what happened. Broward Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Gina Carter told the press the it is unclear what prompted the alleged attack. Police don’t know if the two men had even met before. As many violent attacks occur between parties who know each other already or as part of a robbery, such a mysterious altercation is unusual.
In an official statement, Carter said the two men were employed by different companies: Schuler was a day laborer who was only contracted for the day and Alvarez worked for N&P Demolition in West Palm Beach, which is a subcontractor on the work site.
“It doesn’t appear that there was a fight between the two men, but this is something that the detectives are gonna . . . be trying to determine,” said Carter. “What prompted the attack? Why did this even happen?”
“It’s also unclear if these two men knew each other,” she said. “Right now, detectives are speaking to everyone involved, trying to piece together different information to determine why the attack took place.”
Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Schuler could face a first-degree murder charge. First-degree murder is a capital offense with only two possible sentences: death, or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Florida, but the state can waive the death penalty as a sentencing option. Under Florida law, homicide is only justifiable if done in self defense while resisting an attempt by someone to kill you or to commit a felony against you.