For the second time in less than six months, shooters indiscriminately fired into a basketball court crowded with children and teenagers, this time striking a 10-year-old riding a bicycle in the leg.
The victim, who hasn’t been named, was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he remained Thursday in stable condition.
“Three guys just came up and opened fire,” said Miami Police Detective Freddie Burden. “Who was the target? We don’t know.”
The shooting happened at about 8:30 p.m. at a crowded basketball court at Northwest 14th Avenue and 63rd Street in the Liberty Square housing project, a subsidized apartment complex that has been wracked by gunfire for the past 18 months.
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Last December, just a few days before Christmas, someone parked a dark Nissan Maxima on Northwest 17th Avenue just adjacent to Arcola Park on 87th Street and opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon. Though no one was killed in that incident either, nine people between the ages of 16 and 21 were struck by bullets.
That incident, which hasn’t been solved, appeared eerily similar to a 2011 shooting at Arcola in which two children and two teens were victims of gunfire. All four survived.
On Thursday night, while children and teens were gathered near a basketball court about 30 blocks away from Arcola Park, three people walked up to the courts and “started shooting into a crowd,” police said.
Remarkably, only the 10-year-old was struck.
Thursday’s shooting continued a troubling trend in the Liberty City and Overtown neighborhoods: Teens and children being struck by gunfire — and police having trouble making a case against the shooter or shooters.
In March, 10-year-old Marlon Eason’s life was taken by gunfire as he left the porch of his Overtown home to retrieve a basketball. Less than two hours earlier and only 15 blocks away, 16-year-old Richard Hallman was gunned down. Hallman, who played football at Booker T. Washington High School, was the cousin of University of Florida quarterback Treon Harris.
Those shootings, which led to an outcry in the community, memorials and door-to-door searches, haven’t been solved and sparked an intense outpouring of sadness and anger on social media sites. There were at least three other shootings not far from those crime scenes within a 24-hour period.
Eason and Hallman’s deaths came on the heels of a bloody January day in which three separate shootings within a 14 hour period and only a mile apart left two men dead, a third seriously injured, and a teenage girl wounded. Miami police working crime scences that day were forced to scramble as the airwaves crackled with each new incident.
On Wednesday night’s incident in Liberty City, Burden said police believe they have viable witnesses with good information, but “they want to remain anonymous because of fear.”