Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Teen charged in accidental shooting death of 14-year-old in Miami Gardens

Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio Brooklen
Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio Brooklen

An apparent accidental shooting has left a 14-year-old boy dead and a peer his same age charged with his death.

Miami Gardens police said three teens, all 14, were inside a home at 2812 NW 172nd Ter. Saturday night. One of them was showing a gun when it discharged and struck the victim.

Officers found Tavaris Rhodes suffering from a gunshot wound. He was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center but did not survive.

“It’s a very sad situation with the kids, what’s going on,” said Bernard Martin, the victim’s grandfather. “It’s very touching, man, cause they’re just teenagers. They’re just kids. They’re babies.”

Martin said everyone called the victim Junior. He said the shooting was accidental and happened inside Junior’s grandmother’s home.

“We lost a wonderful kid, always smiling, always playing. Trying to make you laugh,” said neighbor and parent Free Balbona, whose own kids were close friends of Junior’s. “They played together in my backyard, on my trampoline. They hanged out. Went to the movies together. Actually he was going to the movies tonight,” Balbona said, fighting back tears.

Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio Brooklen implored parents to involve themselves with their children’s future.

Balbona suggested the same.

“To be honest, the only reason I’m speaking right now is because I guess if everybody in the community could be more proactive with the kids. Get themselves involved. Get the kids something to do. It’s better than playing with guns.”

The boy in possession of the gun when it fired was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center and charged with manslaughter.