Miami-Dade County

Liberty City protests drive-by shooting of 9-year-old in home

For the people who live on Northwest 55th Terrace, the quiet night suddenly ended with the sounds of war.

Gunshots from a passing SUV blew out car windows, bullets boring through the cement walls of a house front.

But all of the damage couldn’t compare to what this violence did inside the home.

A little boy who lay sleeping in his own bed was wounded, shot in the face, his blood soaking through sheets and mattress.

As rescuers rolled 9-year-old Dontrell Darling into an ambulance, dozens of officers poured into the area, looking for the shooters and asking lots of questions.

“It’s a sad situation when a child can’t be a child, when at 3 o’clock in the morning , a child can’t sleep comfortably in his bed,” Miami police spokesman Delrish Moss said in front of the home.

Dontrell suffered a deep graze to his cheek, Miami Fire Rescue officials said. He underwent surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital and is expected to recover.

But the shooting left scars on a neighborhood now fearful and angry.

“Every time you turn around, someone comes around here and does a drive-by, shoots up someone’s house,” Theresa McClenhan told Miami Herald news partner CBS 4. “It’s just ridiculous. Innocent people are getting killed out here.”

On Friday night, dozens of Liberty City families joined Richard Dunn, candidate for Miami Commission District 5, in a protest march at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park, at Northwest 62nd Street and 12th Avenue, making a plea to the community to end the violence. The park was named for the 9-year-old girl killed in the crossfire of a shootout in Liberty City in July 2006.

“In the past month, we have had five children shot,” Dunn said as he led a group of residents, mostly mothers, on the march through Liberty City’s toughest neighborhoods. “The shooting that occurred yesterday is right around the corner from my house.”

The house at 809 NW 55th Ter., with three adults and four other children ages 4 to 11 inside, was “riddled with bullets,” Miami police spokeswoman Kenia Reyes said. Two cars outside were shot up, back windshield blown out on one, bullet holes pocking the other. Reyes said investigators don’t have a motive for the violence.

Witnesses said they saw a light-colored SUV leaving the area after someone opened fire at the home.

Neighbors described waking up to shots.

“Sounded like a war,” neighbor Albert Doyle told CBS 4. He said he dropped to the floor. “It just kept going and going.”

As police ringed the home, a 9-year-old stopped by looking for his friend Dontrell to walk to school.

He found a crime scene instead. The officers bent down to explain that Dontrell wouldn’t be in class Friday.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 305-471-8477 (TIPS)

Miami Herald freelancer Theo Karantsalis contributed to this report.