About an hour and a half before classes started Tuesday morning, 27-year-old Elena Maria Diaz approached a school police officer near Coral Reef High School, bleeding.
She had been shot in the upper body, police later said. Nearby, Richard Acosta, 31, lay similarly wounded in a Ford Expedition with bullet holes parked right across the street.
The ensuing investigation – and Miami-Dade police’s search for their shooter – put two magnet high schools on a precautionary lockdown for the first hour of the school day. Officers blocked off side roads as they investigated the crime in the southwest part of Richmond Heights, where shots were first reported, and at the school intersection more than a mile and a half away where Diaz eventually flagged down help.
Both lockdowns were lifted, but police are still searching for the suspect, they said.
Police first received a call of shots fired in the area around 6:15 a.m. near Booker T. Washington and Lincoln boulevards, Miami-Dade police spokesman Sgt. Carlos Rosario said. As officers canvassed the scene, police received a second call from the school officer assigned to Coral Reef High School on Southwest 152nd Street, asking for backup after Diaz approached him.
It appeared likely that Diaz or Acosta drove from the scene of the shooting to the intersection where the schools are located. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue took them both to Jackson Memorial South Hospital in stable condition, and police officers shut down 100th to 104th Avenues between 152nd and 153rd Streets to investigate.
As police investigated the origin of the shooting scene, Coral Reef and BioTECH at Richmond Heights High School, located across the street, both issued precautionary code yellow lockdowns, Miami-Dade Public Schools spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said. The school system was alerted to the police activity around 7 a.m., she added.
Though the lockdowns were lifted around 8:30 a.m., the morning drama created chaos around the neighborhood as thousands of students were starting their school day.
Parents who were trying to drop off kids at school were told to drop their students off outside the parking lot, and students who wanted to park inside were required to show their IDs before being allowed in. Police remained stationed outside the schools through Tuesday morning, with officers minding caution tape along a busy 153rd Street.
In an email to parents, Coral Reef Principal Thomas Ennis said the school was put on lockdown “as a precaution and to ensure the safety of our students.”
“All students are safely being instructed in their classrooms under the supervision of their teachers,” he wrote. “There is no current threat to any student in the school.”