Two people were shot before dawn Wednesday in the park just south of the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach.
Miami Beach police got a call around 5:45 a.m. when a woman, wounded from a gunshot to the hand, crossed Collins Avenue at 72nd Street to tell someone at the 24-hour Denny’s restaurant on the corner. The shooter took off.
A man was hit in the abdomen. Both were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
By the afternoon, the woman was identified as Valeria Mato, 32, and the man was identified as Pedro Villarchao, 36. Both were recovering in the hospital.
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The 7100 block of Collins Avenue was shut down to traffic for hours while Miami Beach police investigated. As the traffic piled up, cars were rerouted west on 71st Street, north on Harding Avenue and east on 72nd Street back to Collins.
Crime tape stretched from the front of the Denny’s across the intersection to the palm trees near a pavilion with domino tables. Evidence markers peppered the ground inside the tape.
Josh Poli, a North Beach resident who regularly jogs on the beachside path near the site of the shooting, had just crossed the bandshell area when he heard two fast gunshots over the music from his headphones. He immediately sprinted south.
“I thought someone was getting robbed or getting killed,” he told reporters when he walked by hours later to see what had happened.
By 8 a.m., crime scene investigators were bagging evidence. By 11:30 a.m., traffic on Collins had reopened.
Police believe there may have been a scuffle that preceded the shooting. They are looking for a Hispanic man driving a dark-colored BMW. The suspect sped off heading north on Collins.
Anyone with information is urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.