Miami Beach won’t impose a curfew after deadly spring break shooting

Aaron Leibowitz/

Miami Beach officials will not impose a curfew Saturday and will stick to their spring break programming and policing plans after a deadly shooting rocked Ocean Drive on Friday night.

City spokesperson Matt Kenny confirmed the decision to the Miami Herald around noon Saturday.

“Given that this seems to have been an isolated incident occurring before midnight, and the crowds have been otherwise calm, it would be hard to justify and legally defend an emergency curfew,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in a text message. “Obviously we continue to monitor and if circumstances change, we will take whatever measures are necessary and appropriate to protect the public.”

Two people were shot, one fatally, after 10:30 p.m. on crowded Ocean Drive near Seventh Street as a relatively peaceful spring break was rattled by gunfire for a second straight year. Both victims were taken to Ryder Trauma Center, where one died, Miami Beach police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez said. The other victim was released from the hospital Saturday.

Rodriguez said the department confirmed it was an “isolated incident.” It wasn’t immediately clear whether the shooter has been detained. Rodriguez said police recovered four guns at the scene and had one male in custody who is “cooperating fully with the investigation.”

“Miami Beach Police Department’s staffing remains enhanced and supplemented with assistance from neighboring law enforcement agencies,” Rodriguez said.

In each of the past two years, Miami Beach officials declared a state of emergency and implemented curfews in South Beach during spring break in mid-March. Last year, the city declared a midnight curfew following a pair of shootings on Ocean Drive. In 2021, SWAT teams were deployed to enforce an 8 p.m. curfew.

City officials have taken various steps to try to prevent violence and create a safer environment during spring break, in part by planning events during each weekend in March. Some Miami Beach residents have decried the large crowds in South Beach and called for change, while the city’s police department has previously faced criticism for its aggressive treatment of young, mostly Black spring breakers.

The city’s decision not to make substantial changes Saturday means Ocean Drive will remain closed to cars from Fifth to 13th streets, and that “Art on the Drive,” a three-day offshoot of the Carnaval Miami street festival featuring art and music, will continue from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

On Friday, artist tents were closed and fenced off by early evening and music had concluded by around 9 p.m. Thousands of people, many who had been at the beach earlier in the day, took over Ocean Drive to dance, drink and walk around.

The atmosphere Friday night was mostly calm despite the large crowds. But several moments of panic, including after gunshots rang out, sent a rush of people running and caused near-stampede situations. Around 10 p.m., crowds gathered on Ocean Drive near Eighth Street bolted away from the street twice in a matter of minutes.

Bystanders said they weren’t sure what had caused people to flee. Rodriguez, the Miami Beach police spokesperson, said these appeared to be “false alarms,” and police were not aware of any injuries.