Crime

Gunfire shatters months of calm at complex where young King Carter was killed

Willie Rembert, center, grandfather of 6-year-old King Carter, holds a sign with other family members and supporters during a rally for King on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. King was shot and killed Saturday during a drive-by shooting outside his apartment at Blue Lake Village, at Northwest 103rd Lane and 12th Avenue in Miami-Dade. The rally started nearby, at Northwest 103rd Street and 12th Avenue, with a march and concluded at the complex.
Willie Rembert, center, grandfather of 6-year-old King Carter, holds a sign with other family members and supporters during a rally for King on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. King was shot and killed Saturday during a drive-by shooting outside his apartment at Blue Lake Village, at Northwest 103rd Lane and 12th Avenue in Miami-Dade. The rally started nearby, at Northwest 103rd Street and 12th Avenue, with a march and concluded at the complex. mhalper@miamiherald.com

For the first time since February, children were playing outside the Blue Lake Village apartments, a cluster of three-story yellow buildings in North Miami-Dade where 6-year-old King Carter was killed in front of a playground while on his way to buy candy.

Then, on Monday, gunfire erupted again. Kids fled, again. A woman was shot in the head, a man in the shoulder. And the children went back inside.

“What happened yesterday really shook up the kids,” said King’s father, Santonio Carter, who has embraced his new role as a community organizer since his child’s murder. “The kids just started going back outside. I feel bad for the summer of 2016. It’s going to be a horrible summer.”

Uniformed police officers were still visible early Tuesday morning, talking with potential witnesses and gathering evidence as people milled about on walkways in front of their apartments.

The stories of what actually took place Monday night, according to the people who live at Blue Lake, ran the gamut: Some people said the shooter fled in a white car. A woman said she saw someone pass a gun to another person after a fight broke out.

“I don’t know if it was the liquor or what. I saw some guy with dreads come downstairs and shoot into the air. Then a guy in an undershirt passed a gun to someone,” said one woman who asked that her name not be mentioned.

According to Miami Herald news partner CBS4, a woman at the apartment said she got into a fight with her friend, and then her friend’s boyfriend came downstairs and started shooting in the air. Then others began to shoot.

“I guess Calvin and his girl were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and I do apologize for what happened to them,” Audrey Finnie said.

Yet, a few hours after she spoke to the TV station, Finnie was arrested.

Police said that during the argument she had over a boyfriend she grabbed a kitchen knife from her apartment, slashed four tires on the woman's car, then kicked in its front and rear windshields. Then she cut the woman with the knife.

Police charged Audrey Monique Finnie with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal mischief. They said the incident involving Finnie and the double shooting happened about the same time Monday night but they wouldn’t confirm a link.

Police, who offered no new clues on the shooting Tuesday, said they’re looking for a man and woman who took off on foot.

Officially, police said it was just past 7 p.m. Monday when they received calls about a shooting at the Blue Lake apartments at 1225 NW 103rd Ln. When they got there, they found Calvin Wright, 27, with bullet wounds in his chest and left arm. Jessica Jean, 23, was shot in the head.

Conscious and breathing, both victims were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Both are expected to live. Jean’s head wound was a graze, police said. Police offered no motive and no description of the shooters or a vehicle.

Witnesses said that a group of people gathered in front of an apartment at the northwest corner of the parking lot — the other side of the property from where King lost his life — when someone came out with a gun.

One woman said she was having a birthday dinner for her daughter, heard the noise and went outside. That’s when, she said, someone fired a shot into the air then passed the gun to someone else. She didn’t see anyone get shot.

“I thought I got shot. My brother dragged me behind this building,” she said, pointing.

People living at Blue Lake said that it has been quiet since King’s shooting death in February. No brawls or gunfights. Kids were beginning to once again stream out to the playground. After King’s death, the owner of the complex installed a new high-definition video-monitoring system that spans the complex.

It was unclear Tuesday whether video was available from Monday night’s shooting.

Santonio Carter, whose apartment is just about as far from the shooting scene as possible in the complex just off busy Northwest 103rd Street and nestled along a small lake, said he heard the gunshots and ran out front of their apartment with his wife.

“It’s the same thing that’s going on everywhere. It needs to change,” he said.

The death of his son in February galvanized a community where too many of its children have been lost to gunfire. The death of the 6-year-old, football-loving, Ninja Turtle-loving child led to marches, community meetings and promises from elected leaders of more vigilance.

On Feb. 20, as King was walking in front of the apartment’s playground, the Van E. Blanton Elementary first-grader was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between rival groups that were fighting on Facebook.

A month later, Leonard Adams, 18; Irwin Pressley, 17; and Tamar Teems, 16, were arrested and charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder. Adams was nicked in the neck by a bullet fired from the gun of the person they were attempting to kill, someone originally known only as JuJu. Later, at a court hearing, he was identified as 17-year-old Juwuan Ray.

It’s still unknown who fired the fatal bullet.

King’s shooting sparked outrage in a community that lost 33 children and teens to gunfire in 2015. In the past decade, 329 teens and children have been lost to gunfire. Through April of this year, according to Miami-Dade Medical Examiner records, 74 people in Miami-Dade have been killed by gunfire, including 13 teens and children.

After the loss of King, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Police Director Juan Perez announced a mentoring program for at-risk kids that would involve a police presence. Job training has been promised by the parks department. As time went on, the elder Carter’s voice grew louder.

He began a group called Save Our Kings, a grass-roots initiative to stop gun violence and embed morals, principles and respect. Carter led community walks with people wearing “Save Our Kings” T-shirts and carrying signs that read “Stop the Violence” and “Say Something.”

Santonio Carter, the father of King Carter, hopes his foundation, Save Our Kings, will affect positive change in a grassroots initiative to staunch gun violence. Six-year-old King was caught in the crossfire of feuding teenagers on February 20.

On Monday night, Carter said he had had enough of Blue Lake and said he was packing his family up and moving out. On Tuesday, after cooling off a bit, Carter said he still plans to leave the complex but promised to keep fighting gun violence.

“I’m sticking with that,” he said. “The same thing is going on everywhere, and it needs to change. I think what happened to my son happened for a reason. It was for me to lead.”

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