Customers, friends and even strangers dropped off candles and flowers at a Little Haiti barbershop Monday, where the day before a deadly dispute outside left two men dead.
“Just showing some love,” said Derek Hoyas, as he knelt down to light a white candle.
Miami police were called out at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday to the shop at 5325 NE Second Ave. in Miami because of a dispute between two men. The unidentified officer was trying to calm the men down when police say the unnamed security guard pulled out a gun and shot the shop owner, identified by friends and customers as Gersen Mieses. The officer then shot the guard.
“He shot and killed him in front of the officer,” Miami police spokeswoman Frederica Burden said Monday. “The officer had no other choice but to shoot the guard.”
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While police say it is not clear what started the argument — only saying it seemed like an “ongoing dispute ” — people who stopped by the shop Monday said the dispute may have started over a parking spot or because the guard was passing out fliers from a rival barbershop across the street.
“He was starting problems,” said an older man with a cane, who refused to give his name, referring to the guard. The man said the guard was passing out fliers for the shop that recently opened. “That’s why they are closed today. They know that’s why this happened.”
Martin Cole, who witnessed the shooting, told CBS4 Sunday night that the guard “flipped his lid.”
Others, however, said the guard was giving Mieses problems about parking illegally. People who work and go to the busy Sabal Palm Shopping Center say the guards are strict about parking. They will sticker cars and have cars towed if they are parked illegally.
“This guy had an attitude about parking,” said Juan Quintana, who works in the nearby supermarket, referring the security guard.
On Monday, Mieses’ blue Toyota Yaris — with a white shirt hanging in the backseat, an ID necklace wrapped around the rear view mirror and a custom Tampa Bay Rays license plate — sat in the first parking spot closest to his shop.
His car wasn’t supposed to be parked there — it was marked with a yellow sign reserving the space for the doctor next door. There was a tow-away sign under it. A woman at the front desk of Jacques Victor’s practice said the car belonged to Mieses. Victor did not comment.
Alberto Ortega, who works at Torres Towing Inc., said the company frequently gets calls from security after hours for cars parked in the plaza.
Henry Avello, a security guard with Professional Property Protection, the security company that oversees the plaza, said he was not allowed to speak to the media. Some say the guard had been at the plaza for years.
On Sunday, a man who identified himself as the security guard’s cousin, Joshua Rodero, told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 that the guard’s first name was Ruben. He said he was a family man and a loving man.
Friends and customers of Mieses struggled Monday with the news of his death. They described him as a nice guy from the Dominican Republic who always smiled and got along with everyone. The shop has been in the family for years, customers said.
“He was like my brother,” said Adrian Gonzalez, who in October traveled to Colombia with Mieses. “This didn’t need to happen.”
Mieses, who friends said had a son, was not married and was at the shop — in the back corner spot — almost everyday.
Dieudonne Louis placed a bunch of purple flowers, knocked on the shuttered front door and prayed.
“He was a good, good man,” she said, referring to Mieses. The women used to cook fish, rice and beans and other food for him all the time. “I’ll miss him.”