A Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Miami took a violent turn Monday when gunfire erupted at a crowded outdoor festival honoring the civil rights leader, injuring eight people, including five juveniles, authorities said.
Four teenage girls and a 30-year-old man were in the hospital in stable condition, and a 20-year-old man was in critical condition after suffering apparent gunshot wounds, police said. Two other victims — an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old — were grazed by bullets and treated on the scene, the Miami Herald reported.
Police said they recovered two firearms and took two people into custody for questioning but had not identified any suspects as of Tuesday night.
“This investigation continues to be very active,” the Miami-Dade Police Department said in a statement.
The shooting occurred at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in northwest Miami at about 3:40 p.m., a couple hours after a parade honoring King had wrapped. The annual parade and festival at the park is intended for families — featuring food vendors and music — and typically draws thousands of people. It has been a staple of Miami’s MLK Day celebrations since it started in the 1970s.
The park was lively but peaceful until the shots rang out, sending people scrambling for cover, witnesses said. Video posted by WSVN captured the burst of gunfire. In the 12-second clip, a man in sunglasses and a gray sweatshirt was seen filming as he strolled through the festival. An instant later, at least four shots were heard coming from behind him. People scream, and the shaky footage shows the filmer and others running through the park.
Another video posted by CNN shows three police officers carrying a young woman wearing white jeans and a striped tank top wailing in pain for treatment of what appeared to be an injury to her lower leg.
Terrell Dandy, who was in the park, said a stampede broke out in the park when the shots went off.
“It was good until you had these idiots out there shooting,” Dandy told the Herald. “It was just a bunch of commotion.”
Geral Frazier, a relative of one of the juveniles who was shot, said gunfire continued as one ambulance tried to pull away from the scene.
“They were still shooting, and the ambulance couldn’t leave, ” Frazier told WSVN. “Everybody just running and screaming.”
Authorities swarmed the scene and evacuated the park, lining the area with tape and forcing vendors to pack up early. Police told the Herald that no officers were involved in the shooting.
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said it was “shameful” that violence had interrupted the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations.
Tammy Meeks said she was attending the festival with her family when she heard the gunfire. She said her nieces, nephews and son were in the crowd when the shots rang out, but none were injured.
“Too close to home,” she told WSVN. “This is supposed to be Martin Luther King Day. This should be one of the one days out of the year where whether you’re white, black, Hispanic — no matter what you are, we come together and just have fun and care for one another. And it’s senseless that we can’t just do that on one day of the year.”
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