The police blotter read like a script for "That's; Incredible," but it was just another day of murder in metropolitan Miami.
On Monday, one Cuban refugee killed two others in a fight at a voodoo rite. A Colombian woman driving a 1980 Corvette was shot to death at close range in rush-hour traffic in an apparent drug vendetta. An angry Latin male murdered the wrong man following an argument in a busy downtown park.
Since Saturday, 15 killings have been recorded in Dade County, boosting the record-breaking 1980 homicide toll to nearly 500 or 40 percent more than last year. In one Dade County community, the city of Miami, the homicide rate is 70 percent above that in 1979. Of the death toll, 18 came in the Liberty City riots.
"I think a person has a greater possibility of being a victim of a major crime in south Florida than most anywhere else in the United States," said Lt. John Beckman, head of Dade County's homicide investigations.
Declaring an "emergency in crime" just before the opening of the winter tourist season, Miami Beach commissioners have closed city parks, piers and beaches at 10 p.m. and approved antiloitering and stop-and-frisk ordinances for 60 days.
The strict laws are aimed at rooting out homeless Cuban refugees who police accuse of helping to push up the incidence of major crimes by more than a third this year in Miami Beach. "You don't stop crime but you can chase it away, said Mayor Murray Meyerson.
Florida has six of the 10 most crime-ridden cities in America, based on incidents per 100,000 inhabitants, according to a nationwide FBI study. They are Daytona Beach, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Gainesville, in addition to Miami. Miami, the nation's 40th largest city, ranks as the fifth most dangerous in a surge of Sun Belt violence, the FBI said.
A new T-shirt mockingly juxtaposes a view down the barrel of a handgun with the city's tourism slogan: "Miami, See It Like A Native."
Police attribute half the increase in homicides to frustrated Cuban refugees who flooded Miami this summer. In addition, drug traffic is up, and unemployment and racial tensions have made bar fights, domestic quarrels and robbery-killings more commonplace, police say.
Last Saturday, a 35-year-old engineer who had 10 rifles among his collection of 25 to 30 guns watched "The Godfather" on television, then shot his father to death. An internationally respected Filipino cardiologist attending a medical convention in Miami Beach was murdered in his ocean-front hotel Monday.
"You never know when you honk your horn if someone will take it personally," said Miami homicide captain Kelly England.
At least three persons have died this year because they apparently angered another driver.
In one incident, a family in a station wagon pulled off a road to allow an ambulance to pass. A car behind them making the same maneuver brushed their fender. An argument erupted, and the driver of the rear vehicle pulled out a pistol, critically wounded the first driver and killed his wife in front of their 11-year-old son. Then he fled. The suspect has a long record of narcotics arrests.
Police say that most of the homicides do not occur in popular tourist areas.
But they warn newcomers against venturing off open freeways into the wrong neighborhoods.
A white man was robbed twice while telephoning for aid for his disabled car from a phone booth in a black community just off the expressway. While he was calling for a tow truck, a youth snatched his female companion's purse. As he called police, another man held him up at gunpoint. The police dispatcher at the other end of the line was saying he had no officers available to send.