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Gunfire is deadly at spring break site

In Miami Beach, curfew ruled out by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | March 19, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

MIAMI -- Gunfire broke out in an area of Miami Beach crowded with people on spring break, killing one person, wounding another and sending dozens scrambling for safety, police said.

Miami Beach officials will not impose a curfew Saturday and will stick to their spring break programming and policing plans. City spokesperson Matt Kenny confirmed the decision to the Miami Herald about noon Saturday.

"We continue to monitor and if circumstances change, we will take whatever measures are necessary and appropriate to protect the public," Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber wrote in a text message.

About 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.

Then after 10:30 p.m., two people were shot on South Beach's Ocean Drive, which is closed to vehicle traffic along its busiest stretch as hundreds of people gather to celebrate spring break.

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.

Several blocks in the area were cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape.

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 imposed a midnight curfew following two shootings also on Ocean Drive.

In 2021, there were about 1,000 arrests and dozens of guns confiscated during a rowdy spring break that led Miami Beach officials to take steps aimed at calming the situation. 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 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 "Art on the Drive," a three-day offshoot of the Carnaval Miami street festival, will continue from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

On Friday, 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.

Information for this article was contributed by Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald (TNS) and by staff members of The Associated Press.

Print Headline: Gunfire is deadly at spring break site


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