A 6-year-old is shot dead, and a community demands change

Enough is enough.

Through the tears, through the impassioned speeches, through the demands for justice, this is what the people want. This is what they demand.

A day after 6-year-old King Carter was killed by a drive-by shooter’s bullets, a community in Northwest Miami-Dade emerged angry. And determined.

Sunday’s rally brought out neighbors and leaders, all in the same frame of mind: sadness mixed with resolve.

“This is not a single person's problem. This is not a single Zip code's problem,” said Miami-Dade school Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who broke down in tears. “This is chipping away at the soul of our community, one child at a time. It shouldn’t be a crime to be a child in Miami.”

The rally, organized by South Florida activist Tangela Sears and other local leaders, came in the shadows of the death of young King. He was shot and killed Saturday as he played outside his apartment in Blue Lake Village — locally known as Colors — at Northwest 103rd Lane and 12th Avenue.

King, a first-grader at Van E. Blanton Elementary, loved candy, laughing, playing football. On Sunday, his father, Santonio Carter, could barely speak through his tears.

“He loves his daddy and I love my son,” he said, standing next to a make-shift memorial filled with flowers, notes, teddy bears and candles. “I had to find my son in the corner with his eyes open.”

Hundreds gathered where only 24 hours before crime-scene tape blocked off the spot where the little boy was hit with a bullet. A witness said three men in a dark, four-door sedan pulled up and began shooting.

Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said officers have been working around the clock to find King’s killer. But no one was in custody on Sunday.

“We have to fight together,” he said. “It takes all of us to fix this this.”

Also at the rally: Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Jean Monestime, School Board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, police officers, family members, adults and children.

“We need to stop burying our children,” Monestime said. “This has got to stop. Today it is someone else’s child; tomorrow it may be yours or mine."

Violence involving teens and young children has been an ongoing tragedy “that has to stop,” Carvalho said. In December, 7-year-old Amiere Castro was visiting his cousins in a home on Jackson Street and Southwest 152nd Street when he was hit and killed in a drive-by.

One of the biggest problems, leaders say: the so-called code of silence on the streets.

“A 6-year-old and the community is silent?” said King’s aunt Tawana Akins. “In broad, open daylight, no one saw anything?”

Carvalho offered a five-step plan to help curb gun violence: break the code of silence; pass witness-protection legislation; assign community policing; carve out more after-school funding; and impose stiffer penalties for gun use near schools.

Former rapper Luther Campbell, who is now the Miami Jackson High football team’s defensive coordinator, said he knew King’s dad and was heartbroken when he heard the news.

“I looked at my 6-year-old and bust out crying because that could have been my kid,” he said.

After the speeches, the group followed King’s parents on a walk to the little boy’s elementary school — the same walk King took with his father every day.

“It’s like my whole soul is gone,” he said. “That was my morning, noon and my night. I don’t know how to live another day without my son.”

Related stories from Miami Herald