Gang beef over who would be ‘king’ of Opa-locka sparked banquet hall shootings, jurors hear

One of the worst mass shootings in South Florida history was the result of a years-long beef between rival gang members nicknamed “Savage” and “Foepack,” jurors learned this week.

Defendant Davonte Barnes told detectives while being interrogated that he scoped out a Northwest Miami-Dade banquet hall parking lot looking for Foepack, after meeting with Savage and other members of an Opa-locka gang known as “The Bricks,” the night of the Memorial Day weekend shooting.

Barnes also told Miami-Dade Detectives Richard Raphael and Alexandra Turnes that Foepack was targeted in retaliation for a shooting death in Opa-locka a week earlier of a member of the rival gang the “Back Blues.” That victim is believed to be 19-year-old Antwon Streeter.

“I was supposed to peep the scene and leave,” Barnes was recorded telling detectives. He said the fight between Foepack and Savage went back several years and that “they wanted to kill each other.” Pressed during the questioning, Barne’s said he believed both wanted to be the “king” of Opa-locka.

As the trial neared the end of its second week, no one explained what exactly Barnes meant by the “King” of Opa-locka, or what exactly Foepack and Savage were fighting over. Local rapper Antonio “Foepack” Jones was shot and injured during the El Mula shooting, but survived. Savage hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Thursday was an emotional day of testimony in which state prosecutors broke down the shooting using a colorful powerpoint presentation that began with an overhead shot and led to actual surveillance video of the shooting scene and people quickly scrambling to safety behind cars. At one point, family members of one of the people killed became so overwhelmed they had to leave the courtroom.

Prosecutors showed how gunfire headed toward the nightclub’s entrance came from three different vehicles, a white Nissan Pathfinder, black Cadillac and black Nissan Altima. It’s also believed that people in the crowd may have fired back. A bullet hole was found in one of the Pathfinder’s tail lights and Barnes testified that one of his associates had to go to the hospital after being shot in the arm or leg.

State prosecutors say that late on the night of May 30, 2021, as dozens of people were leaving the El Mula banquet hall at 7630 NW 186th St. after a rap music release party, several associates of Barnes opened fire on the crowd with high-powered rifles. Killed were Desmond Owens and Clayton Dillard III, both 26, and an innocent bystander named Shankquia Lechelle Peterson, 32, who was taken to the hospital and later died of her wounds. Twenty others were wounded.

Police had initially arrested one of the suspected shooters around the same time Barnes was taken into custody two years ago. But Warneric Anthony Buckner was freed after prosecutors determined he had invoked his right to counsel before admitting to his crimes on tape. He’s currently in prison for another crime and has been charged with the murder of a young Liberty City girl a few months before the the El Mula shooting.

On the interrogation video viewed by jurors Wednesday and Thursday, Barnes appeared swayed by Raphael’s paternal play and became animated during his several hours of statements, giving up the names of many of the people believed to be involved in the shooting. He admitted to loading the GPS coordinates of El Mula into the cellphones of gang members in other cars and said he saw at least one AR-15 the night of the shooting.

As the high-profile trial before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez neared conclusion and with bench seats in the courtroom filling, metal detectors were set up outside courtroom 4-6 at the Richard E. Gerstein Criminal Courthouse.

During cross examination Thursday, defense Attorney Robert Barrar insinuated that Turnes and her partner Raphael manipulated Barnes into admitting he was the lookout. The attorney said the detectives initially brought up the theory and got Turnes to admit that Barnes initially denied casing the property before the crime.

When he asked Turnes if she was pressured to make an arrest in a case that received national attention, she denied it, saying “We are trained to handle every case the same.” When Turnes told jurors that detectives believed the shooters were in three different vehicles, Barrar quizzed her on where Barnes ever said the plan at El Mula was to shoot people.

“He said it was to get Foepack,” she said.

But, Turnes said, Barnes told detectives he was unaware that the plan was to kill Foepack outside El Mula.

“His understanding was that they’d follow him home and kill him at somewhere more secluded,” Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Christopher Flanigan said, directing the statement as a question towards the detective on the stand.

“Yes,” responded Turnes.