In South Florida, shootings usher in bloody holiday weekend

AP General

Family and friends of victims of a shooting outside a banquet hall wait outside the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Sunday morning May 30, 2021. The gunfire erupted early Sunday at the El Mula Banquet Hall in northwest Miami-Dade County, near Hialeah, police told news outlets. (Devoun Cetourte/Miami Herald via AP)

MIAMI (AP) — Violence ushered in the Memorial Day weekend in South Florida, when gunmen indiscriminately sprayed bullets into crowds at two Miami venues. Two people died and at least 20 others were injured early Sunday morning during a shooting outside a banquet hall, about a day after a drive-by shooting killed one person and injured six.

Authorities called on the public to help identify the shooters.

“This type of gun violence has to stop. Every weekend it’s the same thing,” said the police director of Miami-Dade County, Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III, whose officers were hunting down three suspects believed to have been involved in Sunday’s violence.

“These are cold blooded murderers that shot indiscriminately into a crowd and we will seek justice,” Ramirez said in a tweet.

Two people died at the scene, police said. As many as 25 people went to various hospitals for treatment.

Clayton Dillard and his family waited outside the El Mula Banquet Hall in northwest Miami-Dade County, where Sunday’s shooting took place shortly after midnight, hoping for news about a loved one they feared was among the two fatalities.

“I know he’s there,” Dillard said, “but they won’t let me come claim him.”

As of Sunday afternoon, police had not released the names of the victims, whose bodies were awaiting to be removed from the scene — more than 16 hours after the shots rang out outside the banquet hall, which had been rented out for a concert.

Police said the gunfire began when three people got out of an SUV shortly after midnight and shot into a crowd with assault rifles and handguns. The shooting was targeted, Ramirez said, but did not elaborate.

More than two dozen people crowded behind yellow police tape and a line of squad cars as police continued their investigation into Sunday evening.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis joined in mourning, saying on Twitter he was “praying for the recovery” of the victims and pledged help from state authorities.

“We are working with local authorities to bring justice to the perpetrators. Justice needs to be swift & severe!” DeSantis tweeted.

Businessman and TV personality Marcus Lemonis, star of “The Profit,” took to Twitter to offer a $100,000 reward to help authorities capture the suspects.

Sunday’s shooting came a little over a day after a drive-by shooting claimed the life of one person outside another venue about 13 miles away in the Wynwood area. Six others were injured. Some witnesses likened the scene to a “war zone” after a barrage of dozens of bullets sent people scurrying in the night.

Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones said he wants DeSantis to do more than just pray. He’s calling on the governor to sit down with Democrats to discuss meaningful ways of addressing gun violence.

“Thoughts and prayers have been going on for years and thoughts and prayers haven’t done a damn thing inside the Black community — or any community when it comes to gun violence,” Jones said.

But he acknowledged Republicans are resistant to discuss the issue.

“Republicans don’t want to talk about guns. They think we’re trying to take their guns away from them. If their talking point is that guns are for protection, or that guns are for hunting, just know that that terminology is different in certain communities,” Jones said. “Some of these individuals are using guns to murder. Some of these individuals are using guns to hunt people.”

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Calvan and Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida.

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