Police on Thursday scoured the Soar Park neighborhood for answers after a teenager minding her own business on a bench was hit in the head or neck with a bullet.
Keimouria Gardner, 17, remained at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition. Two men were shot at the same time, but under different circumstances, police believe.
Willie Williamson, and Herchel Belizaire, both 22 and residents of Little Haiti, were also taken to Jackson with gunshot wounds, where they remained in stable condition Thursday.
All three were shot within seconds of each other Wednesday evening at Soar Park, a small park in an enclave of unincorporated Miami-Dade just outside Little River.
But unlike Gardner, police believe the two men may have been targeted, and could have fired weapons of their own. Police don’t believe Gardner knew the men.
Based on witnesses, Miami-Dade Detective Roy Rutland said police consider Gardner an “innocent bystander,” who was sitting on a park bench watching younger cousins on the playground when a stray bullet likely fired at the two men struck her.
Seeking help in solving the perplexing case in which detectives were getting conflicting accounts, county cops fanned out across the Soar Park neighborhood Thursday afternoon, handing out fliers with a picture of Gardner and her braided hair.
Along with gathering information, police asked residents to contact the department’s homicide unit or call the tip line Crime Stoppers if they have information.
Police have received so many various accounts of what actually happened, it’s been difficult for investigators to construct a chronology. They’re not even certain whether any of the victims were firing weapons.
At one point Wednesday night, officers pulled a man in a white tank top and blue jeans from a street corner, searched him, cuffed him, stuck him in a patrol car and drove off.
Just down the block at the corner of Northwest 83rd Street and North Miami Avenue, yellow police tape closed off the parking lot to Sam’s Food Mart, where police were trying to evaluate whether a damaged red Chevy Camaro was part of the crime scene. Even a gas station a block away was blocked off by officers from another policing agency.
“At this time it’s unclear if the victims were standing in the park, or seated inside parked vehicles when the shooting occurred,” according to a police statement. “Investigators are also trying to ascertain the relationship between the victims.”
It said that due to conflicting witness statements, there was no information available on any possible suspects.
One woman, who was working in a home facing the park’s parking lot where the men were shot, said she heard gunfire that sounded like firecrackers, then all was silent. Witnesses said they saw as many as four cars leave the area after the shooting.
Anyone with information is urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.