Police in South Florida hunted for suspects Monday after two people were killed and 21 were injured in a shooting outside a banquet hall in what authorities called an act of domestic terrorism.
County Commissioner Keon Hardemon said at a news conference that the shooting, which came 24 hours after one person was killed and six wounded in a drive-by shooting in the Wynwood area of Miami, has had a chilling effect on the community.
"We have to be clear about what's happening in Miami-Dade County." Hardemon said. "These are acts of domestic terrorism."
Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III was interrupted during the briefing by a tearful father of one of the victims killed during Sunday's shooting.
"That's the pain that you see," Ramirez said after officers led the father away. "Together, all of us, we must work harder to bring justice to these families."
Gunfire erupted early Sunday near Hialeah at El Mula Banquet Hall, which had been rented out for a concert, police said. The suspects waited in the parking lot 20 to 40 minutes before three people rolled out of a white Nissan Pathfinder and fired on the crowd outside in what Ramirez called a "targeted and cowardly act of gun violence."
Several people in the crowd armed themselves and returned fire, resulting in 23 people shot, two of whom died at the scene, according to police. Three people were in a hospital Monday with critical injuries, and three were released, including a 17-year-old who was shot in the leg.
Authorities said the shooting stemmed from a rivalry between two groups and the intended target was outside the banquet hall when the shooting took place. Police combed through video and forensic evidence after being on the scene for almost 24 hours.
No arrests were announced. Police released a video of the vehicle and the suspects to aid the public in identifying them.
The SUV used in the shooting was found Monday submerged in a canal about 8 miles east of the banquet hall. Police said the vehicle was reported stolen two weeks ago.
“This is a weekend when we should be out remembering, enjoying time with loved ones, and instead we’re here mourning,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at Monday's press conference.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at the news conference that local, state and federal authorities, including the FBI, are "working round the clock" to expedite the investigation. Cava said that when the suspects are apprehended, prosecutors will use the RICO Act, a federal law designed to combat organized crime, to enhance penalties "when appropriate."
Cava urged the public to come forward with any information.
"We need your help," Cava said. "We need you to come forward if you have information to help us solve these crimes."
Camping World CEO and TV personality Marcus Lemonis said on Twitter that he offered a $100,000 reward to help authorities "arrest and convict" the suspects.
The Miami division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives added $25,000 to the reward, Ramirez tweeted later, and Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers contributed $5,000, bringing the total to $130,000.
Police did not release names of the victims.
Clayton Dillard and his family waited outside the banquet hall Sunday, fearing their loved one was among the two fatalities, The Associated Press reported.
“I know he’s there,” Dillard said, “But they won’t let me come claim him.”
Family and friends gathered outside Jackson Memorial Hospital on Sunday, awaiting news on their loved ones' condition and holding a prayer circle.
Angelica Green said her son and nephew, both 24, were shot by three men in "hoodies and ski masks," the Miami Herald reported. Green said her son was "frantic" and in pain when he called her and her husband.
“The worst phone call of my life,” Green said. “He was telling us, if something happens to him, that he loves us. We said, ‘We love you, too, but you’re gonna survive this.’”
Chad Harris told WSVN-7 his 19-year-old daughter was in surgery after being shot and he was waiting to hear from doctors on her condition.
“Words can’t explain how I feel right now, man,” Harris said. “We’re just praying.”
Contributing: John Bacon and Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY; The Associated Press\
Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Miami-area shooting: Suspects sought after 2 killed, 21 hurt