Miami Beach

Taxi passenger shot in the head in Miami Beach

Shots were fired into a taxi cab just north of 3700 Pine Tree Dr. sending several people to the hospital on Monday.
Shots were fired into a taxi cab just north of 3700 Pine Tree Dr. sending several people to the hospital on Monday. wmichot@miamiherald.com

A taxi ride in Miami Beach turned violent on Monday when a group of men in a BMW opened fire on two passengers, shooting one of them in the head and grazing the other.

Working in the middle of the night, Flamingo Taxi driver Ronald Exantus picked up the two men on 67th Street in Miami Beach on their way to the Fontainebleau. But when they arrived at the hotel, they stayed in the car.

“I said, ‘Sir, do you want to get out?’” Exantus said in an interview later Monday. “He said no.”

So the taxi driver headed to where they wanted to go next: Ocean Drive and Eighth Street. As Exantus, 47, turned left into the southbound lane of Pine Tree Drive, he noticed a red BMW convertible behind him.

The car pulled alongside and Exantus said he saw three men, one driving and two in the backseat. One of the men in the backseat locked eyes with Exantus before turning his attention to the passengers.

“He looked in the back seat, he saw the guy and he took out his weapon and he started shooting,” Exantus said. “It was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.”

Exantus stepped on the gas because “if I stop I might get shot,” he said. The BMW followed and the men inside kept shooting into the left passenger window.

Finally, Exantus stopped on Pine Street Drive just south of 41st Street and ducked his head under the steering wheel until the shooting stopped and the BMW sped away.

Then he leaped out and called 911.

Miami Beach police arrived quickly, he said, and blocked off the area for hours while they combed the crime scene. The two wounded passengers were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Even with the bullets flying everywhere, Exantus escaped harm.

The driver said he wasn’t scared for his life — just fearful for his passengers.

“It’s so sad,” he said.

Exantus, who has been a taxi driver for three years, took the rest of Monday off because police impounded his taxi to search for evidence. He said he might get it back on Tuesday.

Both rear windows were shot out and the cab needs a cleaning.

Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told reporters that it’s too early to determine the reason for the shooting.

The shooters were still on the loose after escaping in their red BMW.

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