A group of kids gathered on a Little Haiti street Tuesday morning during a holiday break from school were interrupted when a blue car pulled up, a male driver got out, and someone yelled, “There’s James.”
A scattering frenzy and about a dozen bullets later, a 17-year-old was shot several times and a 10-year-old caught by a stray bullet was shot in the leg, Miami police said.
The two managed to scramble into a home at 5731 NW Fifth Ave., as police were called and paramedics arrived. Both victims were in stable condition later in the day at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The younger one was expected to be released Tuesday; the older teen underwent surgery late in the afternoon.
Police markings were placed next to shell casings on Northwest Fifth Avenue and the home was pockmarked with bullet holes. Police said an older woman in the home — possibly the mother of one of the victims — opened the front door when the shooting started, then slammed it shut as bullets flew.
Miami-Dade County records show no address matching the one given by police. The home and surrounding homes in the residential community just east of I-95 were blocked off by yellow police tape.
“Words were exchanged and people were trying to find cover,” said Miami Police Det. Freddie Burden. “We’re not sure if there are multiple shooters or just one shooter.”
Miami Herald news partner CBS 4 identified the teenage victim as James Leake.
His mother, Pamela Jones, told CBS 4 her son will be OK but said “I'm angry about the violence. It needs to stop.”
Late Tuesday afternoon police still hadn’t released the names of the victims and witnesses gave conflicting accounts. A police source speculated the crime in the predominately Haitian community was drug-related.
Detectives were waiting to speak with the two young males in the hospital and were canvassing the streets gathering information.
“We’re almost positive the offenders are juveniles,” Burden said.
Tuesday’s shootings intensified an already bloody year in the city’s northern end, where through the end of July, 89 people had been shot in Liberty City alone. Of those, 19 were killed. Little Haiti, which is separated from Liberty City by I-95, has also had its share of misfortune.
In May, a fight over clothing between brothers Stephen Odeus, 14, and Stanley Blanc, 16, ended in their deaths when the younger teen shot his brother, then himself. A week later, Marquis Sams, 20, and Wineka Perryman, 19, were murdered during a drive-by shooting in front of a home only 12 blocks from where Tuesday’s shooting took place.
Burden said Tuesday’s incident began when a teen got out of the blue car and ran into a home on Northwest Fifth Avenue. When he exited the home, Burden said, he had a gun and began shooting at the group gathered on the street. The kids scattered, but the two victims were shot as they ran single-file into the home at 5731 NW Fifth Ave.
Even after the two were in the relative safety of the home, the shooter continued to fire away at its exterior, Burden said. Then he jumped back into the car and fled.
Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll said when paramedics arrived around noon, police were already on the scene and a crowd had once again gathered in the street. He said the victims were transported to Ryder Trauma Center in stable condition, but warned that “doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods, yet.”
Nearby residents gathered on street corners, stood in front lawns and rode over on bicycles to try and figure out what caused Tuesday’s shooting.
Five older folks — one a veteran celebrating Veterans Day — sat in chairs chatting on a sidewalk not far from the crime scene.
“We’re here in our own world trying to find out what happened like everyone else,” said one woman. “Nobody got killed. Thank you, Jesus.”