Gunfight near Carol City High leaves two seriously wounded

MULTIAGENCY OPERATION: Miami Gardens and Miami-Dade police officers work the scene of the shooting at Northwest 33rd Court and 187th Street in Miami Gardens on Thursday.
MULTIAGENCY OPERATION: Miami Gardens and Miami-Dade police officers work the scene of the shooting at Northwest 33rd Court and 187th Street in Miami Gardens on Thursday. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Two teenagers were shot near Carol City High School on Thursday afternoon in an exchange of gunfire that led to helicopters sweeping the neighborhood for a shooter, hundreds of students locked inside three area schools, and one of the wounded stumbling into the school begging for help.

The victims, one of whom was found next to the school near a basketball court in Carol City Park, were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. One of the victims was in critical condition, the other serious, police said.

Police and school administrators weren’t certain whether the shooting took place on school grounds or just nearby. Neither of the victims was a student at Carol City High, police said.

Late Thursday, police had one man in custody and had set up a large perimeter just north of the school at 3301 NW 183rd St., searching for a second shooter. SWAT trucks, helicopters with high-beamed searchlights, and police dogs swept the neighborhood.

One male “was taken into custody on school grounds, the other subject fled north,” said Miami-Dade Police Lt. John Jenkins. The shooting took place around 3:30 p.m., less than an hour after school let out. Hundreds of students, however, were there for after-school activities.

Jenkins said four males, believed to be two teens and two adults, began firing at each other after a quarrel. One of the alleged shooters was apprehended near the school property. The other fled north, police believe. Jenkins said no weapons were found and that investigators from Miami-Dade police, who didn’t take charge of the investigation until several hours after the shooting, were still gathering evidence.

“There were a lot of witnesses, and a lot of people need to be interviewed,” Jenkins said.

Carol City High will reopen for school in the morning, though the north side where the incident took place will be blocked off as part of a crime scene, police said.

The 400 kids on lockdown inside Carol City High were finally released — most to a group of worried but relieved parents — shortly after 6 p.m., almost four hours after school ended. As a precaution, 275 students at nearby Carol City Middle School and Barbara Hawkins Elementary were also placed on lockdown.

“We’re trying to piece the information together,” said Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, chief of communications for Miami-Dade Public Schools. “One of the victims went inside the school office to seek aid, and we provided aid.”

Miami Gardens police spokesman Delontay Dumas said the teens were shot on the north side of the school either just at the edge of school property or next to a basketball court at adjacent Carol City Park.

The shooting, on the same day three students were shot at Florida State University, had Miami Gardens, Miami-Dade, and Miami-Dade Schools police scrambling. SWAT trucks, patrol cars and unmarked units raced up the Palmetto Expressway with their lights flashing.

Traffic came to a halt on most roads leading to the school for several hours as emergency personnel snaked their way toward the school. Between 3:30 p.m., when the shooting took place, until well after 7 p.m., the westbound land of Northwest 183rd Street was shut down between 32nd and 37th avenues.

All after-school events at Carol City High, including a scheduled basketball game between the school and Hialeah’s American Senior High, were canceled. With the school day ending at 2:20 p.m., the 400 students still at school for after-school activities couldn’t leave due to the shutdown. Most said they remained in their classrooms or were hustled into the gymnasium.

One 16-year-old Carol City student who had just gotten off a bus and was on his way to the basketball game, said there had been tension between rival gangs in the neighborhood over the past two weeks.

But parents who swarmed to the school to pick up their children said the area surrounding the school was usually peaceful and safe.

“It’s generally a quiet neighborhood. We all look out for each other,” said one woman as she made sure kids getting out of school called their parents.

Miami Herald Staff Writer Carli Teproff contributed to this report.