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Possible Gunshot Shatters Lobby Glass At Miami-Dade Jail

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An armed guard in a bullet proof vest manned the entry to Miami-Dade's Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center Monday. Plywood covered a shattered window next to the manned front door that is used by visitors to the jail.

Crime scene tape surrounded the jail Sunday for more than five hours after police were called to a report of gunfire at about 9:30 a.m. When officers arrived they found the shattered window. Investigators recovered no bullet, but they don't always.

The window shattered onto the floor and ground in what appeared to be thousands of pieces.

Security cameras all over and around the jail captured nothing unusual, but wouldn't necessarily have seen a shot from inside a passing car along busy NW 36th Street which abuts the front of the facility.

Police are not ruling out the possibility that a gunshot blew out the glass.

"They're going to keep looking into this, because it's very strange that window – according to the witnesses – they heard a loud noise prior to that window shattering," said Miami-Dade Det. Alvaro Zabaleta.

A retired police officer, in the jail lobby when the window shattered, said he heard a "loud pop." He asked that CBS4 not use his name.

"I've been at a lot of crime scenes. It definitely was a projectile of some sort that left a perfect circle in the spot where it hit the window," the witness said.

The failure to find a bullet could be explained, he said, by a shot possibly ricocheting off something back into the grass and dirt out in front of the jail.

The incident at the jail does not come in a vacuum, but amid a growing divide between community and police after a spate of police shootings of black men.

It is a reality not lost on cops in South Florida after Sunday's incident at the jail.

"Our correctional officers are law enforcement officers, and because of the threat toward law enforcement officers, we're going to take this seriously, we're going to thoroughly investigate this," Zabaleta said.

A jail could be viewed by some as a symbol of a prejudiced system.

A recent analysis of 70 cities by USA Today shows blacks are 10 times more likely to be arrested than whites.

Some see the report of gunfire and broken glass at the Miami-Dade jail as a targeted message.

"If it was gunshots, definitely that's what they were trying to do was make a statement. I don't know if they took the right avenue, but it seems definitely somebody was trying to make a statement," said Rev. Eric Readon of the New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church.

Interim Corrections Director Daniel Junior issued a statement saying, "The Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department is committed to the safety of its institution and employees. We are working collaboratively with the Miami-Dade Police Department and other local law enforcement to investigate this matter."

No injuries were reported.

As the investigation goes forward, the armed guard in a flak jacket continues to stand sentinel at TGK.

Police say the big, thick sheet of glass didn't shatter by itself and that someone may have useful information.  Anyone who does is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.


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