A little girl was recovering at the hospital after being shot in the back inside a Liberty City apartment building early Tuesday morning.
Police said they received a call just before 3 a.m., saying the 5-year-old child suffered a gunshot wound inside a two-story apartment building at Northwest 12th Avenue and 66th Street and that the bullet was fired during a drive-by shooting. But law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said they found no evidence of a drive-by, like scattered bullet casings. They’re interviewing family members to determine if the shooting was accidental or the result of a domestic dispute.
The child, who was found in her mother’s arms by police and paramedics, was taken to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Police said the child was in her apartment with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and a sibling at the time of the shooting. There were initial conflicting reports about whether the child was in stable or critical condition.
Miami police, who continued to scour the scene for witness accounts and evidence later Monday morning, say they have detained a person for questioning. The U-shaped apartment complex was blocked off from the public by police tape and patrol cars.
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The shooting happened just across the street from Liberty Square, a notorious low-income housing complex that is undergoing a historic renovation and that had been on virtual lockdown since two high school teenagers were shot and killed there in broad daylight back in April.
Though shootings have been down as police increased patrols in the neighborhood that runs from 62nd to 72nd streets and 12th to 15th avenues, there still has been sporadic gunfire.
A month and a day ago, a 21-year-old was shot and killed in Liberty Square, directly across the street from where the child was shot Tuesday. A sidewalk memorial along a fence there is still adorned by candles and teddy bears.
Early Tuesday morning young children in school uniforms accompanied by their parents had to traverse the path between the two shootings to get to Holmes Elementary School.
The latest shooting also caught the attention of Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who often weighs in when a school-aged child is shot.
“Thankfully it appears this young life will be spared from the cowardice of whoever fired the shot that hit her,” the superintendent wrote on Twitter. “We must not become numb to these acts of violence. Our children deserve the outrage, vigilance, cooperation and resources required to stop them.”
Tuesday’s shooting was adjacent to the site of a mass shooting that rocked Liberty City four years ago. It was an early June morning in 2014 and a group of about a dozen people were gathered in a courtyard listening to music and talking when two dark SUVs pulled up, men got out and opened fire with assault rifles, then fled. Two people were killed and seven others were shot and injured. That crime was never solved.
After the April shootings in Liberty Square that claimed the lives of 17-year-old Kimson Green and 18-year-old Rickey Dixon, both Northwestern High School students, police ramped up activity in the neighborhood, setting up a command center and trotting through the property on horseback. Command staff set up a series of dodge ball games and other activities for the kids.
Shootings in the neighborhood have been a contentious issue for residents and a source of frustration for police. Liberty City police Cmdr. Keandra Simmons said there is a limit to how much police can protect the community as long as there is a proliferation of weapons.
“It’s like putting a Band-Aid over a wound that is deep-rooted,” she said.