It only took minutes for a report of a stolen car to turn violent over the holiday weekend, resulting in a double car chase, crash and a confrontation with a Miami-Dade police officer that left a 15-year-old wounded and possibly paralyzed. The teen, police said, had been armed with a Glock pistol when he was shot.
The chaotic event unfolded just after 1 a.m. Sunday with police patrols in the county’s north end already beefed up and on heightened alert after the Friday night ambush and murder of a Brownsville rap musician.
Just before 1 a.m. Sunday, according to law enforcement sources, a police dispatcher issued an alert for a stolen Dodge Charger. An electronic license plate reader soon recorded the car heading south on a major Northwest Miami-Dade roadway. Only a few minutes later, a Miami-Dade police officer spotted the car with a matching plate idling next to another car, a Dodge Challenger, in a parking lot at a fast-food joint in Brownsville, said a law enforcement source.
Within minutes, both cars would flee from police. The stolen Charger got away but the Challenger crashed and its 15-year-old driver — who police said was armed with a Glock handgun recovered at the scene — was shot by an officer. Police identified the teen as Vito Corleone-Vinisee. Officially, police said he’s been hospitalized in critical condition. One law enforcement source said the teen is now paralyzed from the neck down.
Police released information on the shooting with unusual speed. Only a few hours after the shooting Miami-Dade discussed details of his arrest record and released color photos of the teen, the Glock police said he was holding and a high-powered assault rifle they found in the crashed vehicle.
“Tonight could have very easily been a tragic night for the law enforcement family,” said Miami-Dade Police Spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta. “... These are individuals that clearly are up to no good.”
As of Monday, police had not yet said what charges the teen might face. His family had not returned phone calls or texts by early evening and there was no answer at the door when a Miami Herald reporter knocked. All that remained at the crash scene — not far from the site of an annual parade in Liberty City celebrating the birth of civil rights icon the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — were some skid marks and a section of a chain-link fence that was plowed over.
It wasn’t clear if there were witnesses to the early morning chase and crash and police didn’t say if they had taken any of the passengers in the vehicles into custody. The Miami Herald was unable to find any social media posts from the teen that could have led to friends or acquaintances.
Miami-Dade police were offering few public details about what led to the chase and the shooting of the teen, saying he disobeyed a police command to stop his vehicle before taking off and crashing. They hadn’t released the name of the officer who fired his weapon, only saying he was a 29-year veteran.
But piecing together official police statements and with information from law enforcement sources painted a clearer picture of how the stolen vehicle report spiraled into a chase and police shooting.
It was about 12:45 a.m. Sunday when Miami-Dade Police were alerted to the stolen Dodge Charger. Though a source said the car had been stolen in Miami Gardens, police spokeswoman Carolyn Frazer couldn’t confirm that Monday afternoon.
By 1:15 a.m., the vehicle was spotted at a fast-food restaurant two blocks from Brownsville’s Joseph Caleb Center on Northwest 54th Street and 22nd Avenue. The officer who identified the car alerted other officers, a source said. Police followed as the suspected stolen Charger and the Challenger it was parked next to began to leave the parking lot.
The Charger was likely spotted quickly after the initial dispatch because of more extensive patrols in the county’s north end put in place over the holiday weekend in fear of retaliation shootings after the Friday night ambush and murder of Brownsville rapper Wavy Navy Pooh. The rapper, whose real name is Shandler Beaubien, was killed when a Lexus pulled up to the Camry he was driving at an intersection in Kendall near Zoo Miami and opened fire. A 1-year-old, 5-year-old and a woman in the back seat were not physically injured.
“They were doing pro-active enforcement in that area due to the murder of the rapper on Friday night,” said Steadman Stahl, president of Miami-Dade’s Police Benevolent Association.
As police followed the two vehicles, they sped off in different directions. The Charger, the vehicle police were looking for originally, got away. But police continued following the Challenger. When it crashed into fencing outside of the Caleb Center, police said several people jumped out and took off. A plain-clothed sergeant chased Corleone-Vinisee, who he said was driving the car.
Police said the officer fired his weapon striking the teen while he was holding the Glock. Police said they found another handgun and a semiautomatic assault rifle inside the Challenger. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
Though police revealed that Corleone-Vinisee had past interactions with the law, there is no indication they knew he was driving the Challenger before the police shooting. There was a pick-up order for him issued for alleged past misconduct but the officers on patrol that night were not actively looking for him.
State records show the teen was arrested by North Miami police and charged with attempted burglary of an occupied dwelling in August of 2020. Three months later he was arrested again, this time charged with robbery with a firearm by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The records also indicate that the pick-up order for the teen was based on two missed court hearings in August and September that were related to the 2020 charges.
Police have not indicated if Corleone-Vinisee is in any way linked to Wavy Navy Pooh’s death but they are investigating to see if any of the occupants of either car might have a connection.
Beaubien’s most notable song, “M.I.A.M.I. (Murder is a Major Issue),” features him waving a pistol, a staged murder crime scene and actual footage of Miami-Dade police officers at real-life shooting scenes. It’s been viewed on YouTube over 200,000 times.
The rapper has been shot before. In May 2020, he was shot in the leg while driving on the 3100 block of Northwest 88th Street. He told officers he fired back in self-defense after somebody in a passing car opened fire at him. Police believe he may be linked to several Northside District shootings last year.
Miami Herald Staff Writer David Ovalle contributed to this report.