200 Florida officers, 30 students search for missing teen

A group of South Florida law enforcement and students traveled to Gainesville Thursday to assist in the case of missing University of Florida teen Christian Aguilar in what police are calling the largest search to date — while the family hopes to meet with suspect Pedro Bravo’s parents."I have spoken with the parents and hoping they return today. I have been talking to them and trying to pressure them to come back and talk to Pedro," Carlos Aguilar said Thursday morning. "They said they are going to come here so we can have a face to face and confront Pedro and see if he will talk. There is still key information we don’t know."

At least 200 officers, including some from South Florida, are retracing both rural and commercial stretches in Gainesville.

"Today what you are seeing is a culmination of all our resources. We have officers, mounted units, bloodhounds, cadaver and tracking canines," said Gainesville Police spokesman Ben Tobias. "We are still treating this as a live search until we find definitive evidence of otherwise."

Aguilar said he arrived at the Alachua County Fairgrounds at 7 a.m. Thursday to meet volunteers already assembled to join the search.

"We have a search that is now triple in size. I have been assured by the chief of police in Gainesville and the city manager that they are supporting us," he said. "We are not giving up and until the police tell is something different, I we will continue to be a part of Gainesville."

Among the local police helping in the case: Miami-Dade Police, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, Doral Police, Miramar Fire Rescue, Sweetwater police, Medley police and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department.

At about 6 a.m., a bus carrying 30 students from Doral Academy — where both Bravo and Christian Aguilar graduated and Aguilar’s younger brother attends — arrived. They will hand out fliers on campus and go out on searches. The group also plans to return on the weekend.

"We are here to support Alex and his family. He is our classmate and friend," said Valeska Pella, 16. "We just don’t want to lose hope."

Related stories from Bradenton Herald