Police believe there may be a common thread in a string of shootings that have rocked Miami Gardens over the past two weeks, Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt said on Monday.
But the chief wouldn't discuss why detectives believe they are connected, if the same shooter was behind the crimes, whether they may be gang related or other details.
"A lot of the shootings we've seen, there is a common denominator," is all Noel-Pratt would say.
Since June 16, four people have been killed during five shootings in Miami-Dade's northernmost city. A fifth person is in critical condition. The carnage began June 16 with a drive-by at a strip mall. On Saturday, someone shot up a car parked underneath a Palmetto Expressway overpass. Police have made one arrest.
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Noel-Pratt, who grew up in the community, called it "an unprecedented amount of violence" for Miami Gardens. Police have increased patrols and are working in cooperation with federal agencies. She said the shootings have not been random and urged anyone with information to come forward, adding their names would be protected under a new state law.
There is a small group of people in Miami Gardens who "feel it's okay to use gun violence to solve their differences," she said.
The first shooting on Saturday June 16, took the life of 21-year-old Michael Mathis, victim of a drive-by in the 3600 block of Northwest 191st Street. Later that same day, three more men were shot, including a 17-year-old. They are all expected to survive.
Early the next morning Thristan Hanson, 24, who went by the nickname "Ace TK Boogie" was shot and killed outside his home while visiting his dad on Father's Day. The shooting took place in the 18200 block of Northwest 41st Court, near the home Hanson's mother and father have owned for 31 years.
Two others were shot along with Hanson, Miami Gardens police said. One received a minor injury. The other remains in critical condition.
On Thursday, there were two more shootings. The first left a man seriously injured after he got into an argument with another man who pulled a gun outside a Family Dollar store. Sunday, police arrested Jamal Bethel, 22, and charged him with attempted murder. They said he was captured after police received a tip and with the help of surveillance cameras.
Saturday, it was just past noon when a car drove up to another car parked underneath an overpass of the Palmetto Expressway near Northwest 167th Street and 27th Avenue and someone opened fire. One of the men died on the scene. The other was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami where he later died, police said.
Noel-Pratt, surrounded by senior staff and some residents, said police are even doing probation sweeps to try and account for anyone who might be involved in the four shootings in which an arrest hasn't been made.
"These are specific individuals, a small percentage that want to wreak havoc," said the chief.