Linda, a 59-year-old grandmother was sitting on her Overtown porch, the shiny Biscayne Boulevard skyscrapers to her east doing little to cool the morning’s blistering sun, when gunfire erupted Friday. Dozens of bullets from rifles and handguns. Linda says she knows the difference, she hears the noise all too often.
“I almost broke my neck trying to get into my house. Shots were coming from everywhere,” said Linda, whose son and grandson were shot in the same neighborhood during a driveby shooting in December. “I don’t know what it was all about.”
Out of concern for her safety, Linda asked that her last name not be used.
When the shooting finally stopped shortly after 11 a.m., four people had been hit on Northwest First Place between 11th and 12th streets, one of them killed. The shooting took place in a small windy crook of the street in front of Leila’s Grocery, a popular corner market painted green.
The shooting was only five blocks from the Ziff Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, where hundreds of Miami Central High School students and their families gathered Friday afternoon for a graduation ceremony — the students and their parents oblivious to the carnage that took place nearby.
Police were keeping extremely mum about the incident. They didn’t release names, ages or the gender of the victims. At first they said three people were shot, but revised that to four after learning one of the victims had been dropped off at Jackson Memorial Hospital by family or friends. The two other survivors were brought there by Miami Fire Rescue. Police said all three were in stable condition.
“We have no motive. There’s no BOLO [Be On The Lookout]. We’re asking for the public’s help,” said Miami Police Detective Freddie Burden.
Well into the afternoon, police continued to interview witnesses. Northwest First Place and a small field of brush to the west were cordoned off to car and foot traffic between 11th and 12th streets. The shooter or shooters were still on the loose. Dozens of bullet casings identified by yellow police markers were under cars, under chairs on the sidewalk, and up and down the street that is often used as short cut from Government Center out of downtown.
Miami Herald news partner CBS 4 reported that police had taken a woman into custody, but police wouldn’t confirm that report.
Overtown and Liberty City have been wracked with mass shootings for a year now. Last June, a dozen people were shot and two were killed in a shooting at an apartment complex at Northwest 65th Street and 12th Avenue. In October, 15 people, mostly high school kids, were shot in a Liberty City teen nightclub called The Spot. Everyone survived.
And in December five people were shot in Overtown, including Linda’s son and grandson. A group was standing outside a home when a black SUV pulled up and someone inside the vehicle began shooting. That incident took the life of Julian Bryant, 17, the best friend of Linda’s grandson.
Linda said she didn’t see anyone get shot Friday because she was too busy scrambling to get inside her home.
“Bullets don’t have no eyes,” she said. “I heard the gunshots, that’s it.”
She said she was told one of the victims was a member of the Longshoreman’s union who had just gotten off work and was about to sit down to play a game of dominoes.
“All them gangsters,” said Linda, “I’m too scared to sit on my own front porch.”