A troubling trend of gun violence leaked into Miami-Dade County’s south end early Monday morning when police said a disturbed gunman shot and killed his girlfriend and her son and wounded three others, before turning the weapon on himself.
Police said they were negotiating the 42-year-old man’s surrender at the Verde Gardens Condominium when he took his own life.
By Monday afternoon, police had not named any of the victims or the shooter. Three people were dead — including a juvenile — and three others were injured, at least one critically, in what police described as a domestic violence incident.
“As officers were attempting to negotiate with the subject, he committed suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said Miami-Dade Detective Angel Rodriguez.
The 1:40 a.m. incident at 12550 SW 282nd St. had police again scrambling to a shooting scene with mass casualties.
Hours later, police had determined that the gunman killed his 35-year-old girlfriend and her 15-year-old son inside the woman’s apartment. Also shot and injured in the apartment were an 11-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl. They were airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where the boy is in critical condition. An 18-year-old man was also shot and injured and was transported to Jackson South Hospital.
Aside from the woman and her son, police have not said publicly how or if any of the others are related.
But a source familiar with the incident said the victims were all family members, and children of the 35-year-old woman. The family had been living there since 2020. After being shot, the 18-year-old banged on the door of a neighbor, who called security. The shooter killed himself near a farmer’s market in the complex after being spotted by the security guard and a Miami-Dade police officer, the source said.
The property and its 140 townhomes are owned by the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. To qualify to live there a person must be formerly homeless and suffer from a disability, which can include mental illness.
Ron Book, who chairs Miami-Dade’s Homeless Trust, said trust members are working with police to piece together what happened and will offer residents counseling.
“We are also seeking to expand educational outreach on domestic violence and the warning signs of abuse,” he said in a statement.
The early morning bloodshed at the complex just south of Homestead Air Reserve Base was the latest in a string of highly publicized, multi-victim shootings that have erupted across the county since Thursday, May 27.
▪ On that day, three people were injured in Miami, including an innocent bystander during a car chase that included a shooter firing away as he hung out a window.
▪ The next day, May 28, gunmen opened fire on a street outside a rented party space in Wynwood, killing one and injuring six others. That same day a man was shot and injured while sitting on bus bench.
▪ Then early Sunday morning, May 30, three gunmen sprayed a crowd of concert-goers at another rented party space in Northwest Miami-Dade, killing three and injuring 20 others. Also Sunday, three people were shot and injured, including an 11-year-old who was firing paint balls at a home. The man who shot the child claimed he believed he was under attack.
▪ On Monday, May 31, Memorial Day, a would-be robber was shot 11 times and killed by two men walking their dog in Midtown Miami. One of the men was also shot in the shoulder and injured. And later that night just outside Prime 112 on Miami Beach, two more people were shot.
▪ Then early Sunday morning just outside a hookah lounge near Miami Dade College’s Kendall campus, gunfire erupted on a group of people celebrating a graduation. Three people ended up dead, including two involved in a car crash, and five others were injured. In another incident Sunday night on Miami Beach, a woman was placed on life support after someone else in a vehicle with her told police she accidentally fired a gun while handling it.
In the past 11 days in Miami-Dade at least 11 people have been killed and 44 others injured by gunfire. And the suspected shooters have not been publicly identified by police in the three incidents with the most victims, in Northwest Miami-Dade, Miami’s Wynwood and in Kendall.
“This is the new pandemic,” Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez said while viewing the crime scene early Sunday outside the Kendall hookah lounge. On Twitter, Ramirez — who hadn’t publicly commented on the South Dade shooting by Monday afternoon — shared his disgust with the previous day’s violence in Kendall which took the life of a Miami-Dade corrections officer.
“Our community was again painfully struck by gun violence overnight. No one is immune,” the police director said.
The recent spasm of violence has sparked an outcry from residents and local leaders — some blaming the high numbers of victims on the rapid-firing assault-style rifles used in several of the shootings. The northwest Dade shooters managed to get off more than 100 rounds in about six seconds, indiscriminately striking nearly two dozen people outside a rap concert.
To help combat the violence, police chiefs from around the county gathered at Miami-Dade Police headquarters in Doral with County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and announced 12 weeks of stepped up enforcement. Earlier in the week the mayor outlined her $8 million Peace and Prosperity Plan, which would boost youth programs and surveillance.
Also trying to help stem the county’s spike in gun violence are private groups like the Dream Defenders and the Circle of Brotherhood, local grassroots organizations that now offer counseling and youth group activities. Leaders of the groups say they’d like to emulate a system set up in Newark, N.J., in which members are essentially trained to police their own neighborhoods.
Last week those groups gathered downtown outside the county mayor’s office asking for a cut of the $500 million Miami-Dade is set to receive under the federal American Rescue Plan.
“We’re not going to arrest ourselves out of this situation,” said Brotherhood Executive Director Lyle Muhammad.
Late Monday afternoon, the Verde Gardens condo and Southwest 127th Avenue by its entrance remained locked down as police continued to comb the area for evidence and spoke to potential witnesses. It’s a typical South Dade townhouse complex of neat but cluttered homes on tree-lined streets, and it’s close enough to the air reserve base that it can be seen from inside the development.
Rodriguez, the department spokesman, said detectives had not forwarded any new information on the shooting at Verde Gardens. He wasn’t certain if the names of the dead and injured would be protected under the state’s Marsy’s Law, created a few years ago to shield witnesses from harassment, but which Miami-Dade police have recently claimed extends to the dead. Rodriguez said the suspected shooter’s family had not yet been notified of his death.
Earlier Monday, County Mayor Levine Cava told CNN that Miami-Dade would spare no assets in the search for the shooters and finding the root cause of the violence plaguing her community. She also pointed out that many other major cities across the nation are suffering similar or worse gun violence. Homicides in all of Miami-Dade County, most coming from the unincorporated Miami-Dade area, are up about 25 percent so far this year. The city of Miami’s numbers have remained fairly stable.
In Chicago this weekend, 54 people were shot and 12 killed. Shootings are up significantly in Portland, Cleveland, New York and many other big metropolises. More than 8,400 people have died from gun violence across the country so far this year. That’s a 23 percent increase from a year ago, according to the Washington, D.C., data collection and research group Gun Violence Archive, which collects data from 7,500 law enforcement agencies.
“It’s a national pandemic,” said Levine Cava. “And as we’re emerging from the pandemic, unfortunately we have not been spared.”