Coconut Grove

After several calm months, two young men shot in the West Grove

A Miami police detective leans down to check a bullet casing as he investigates a shooting at 3452 Day Ave. in Coconut Grove on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.
A Miami police detective leans down to check a bullet casing as he investigates a shooting at 3452 Day Ave. in Coconut Grove on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The shooting of two young men near Elizabeth Virrick Park in Coconut Grove Monday afternoon was likely the continuation of a feud over a murder two years ago at a nearby basketball court, police said.

Police also believe the shooting is related to at least eight other shootings in the area since last summer, one that claimed a life.

“It’s the same people known to hang around the same circles,” Miami police Cmdr. Manny Morales said.

On Monday, just after noon, police believe a dark-colored, four-door car, possibly an Infiniti sedan with tinted windows, sped away after its occupants fired more than a dozen bullets at two men in a driveway at 3452 Day Ave.

Police are looking for two, or possibly three males. The shooting happened less than a block from Virrick Park in the West Grove where kids were playing on the fields outside.

One man crumpled to the ground in the home’s driveway, shot several times. Another scampered a block south to 3422 Percival Ave., before collapsing with “a minor gunshot wound.”

Police haven’t released the victims’ names or ages, but Detective Freddie Cruz, a police spokesman, said one of the men is in critical condition and the other is stable.

Morales said police suspect Monday’s shootings were related to a murder that happened during a basketball game about two years ago. No details on that shooting were available late Monday.

Police cordoned off a block of Day Avenue south from New York Street. Investigators marked possible evidence with yellow plastic markers. A police helicopter flew overhead looking for the suspected vehicle.

Shootings in the West Grove neighborhood last summer and fall sparked community meetings and outrage from parents whose children attend nearby schools. Police began to notice an uptick in shootings last July when a young male was shot near Virrick Park.

In September, a teen was shot and killed on a field under the marquee at Frances S. Tucker Elementary, 3500 Douglas Rd. It was a weekend and no kids were at school. But several weeks later the gunfire became more ominous when the school was locked down after more than 20 shots came from a nearby street.

Morales blamed the shootings in July through September on a “lack of leadership” dating back two years when 10 men were indicted on various charges by federal law enforcement. While not calling them gang members, Morales said those involved in the shooting belong to loosely knit groups that fight over women and strike out in personal disputes.

“Their personal differences were being kept in check by dominant criminals,” Morales said last fall. “So now all these juveniles are feuding with each other.”

Morales said he doesn’t believe the shootings are related to drug dealing. Since the fall, he has met with community activists and Crime Watch members, explaining how police have increased patrols with mounted police and K9 units, and how they planned to flood certain “hot spots” with extra officers.

Police even visited Frances Tucker fifth-graders, teaching them the dangers of gang membership and how to stay away.