Miami Beach commissioners reject curfew for next weekend after 2 fatal shootings last weekend
MIAMI - Miami Beach City Commissioners on Monday voted 4-3 to reject the continuation of a curfew next weekend after imposing one last weekend in the aftermath of two fatal shootings.
The vote came during an emergency meeting after a spring break weekend of chaos that included two deadly shootings over a span of 36 hours.
The city enacted an emergency curfew that took effect at 11:59 p.m. last Saturday and ended at 6 a.m. Monday.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber had hoped the curfew would be extended for next week.
"It's been very difficult for us when you have tens of thousands of kids here and there are those who come along with some guns and create real havoc," he said. "The shootings that occurred occurred almost in front of police officers. The police officers were there s quickly. Within minutes people were arrested so it's not as if a police presence could be increased. We have so many police officers there."
The first shooting happened Friday night in the area of 7th Street and Ocean Drive. Officers in the area heard gunshots and then found two men suffering from gunshot wounds.
Both men were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Unit, where one died. The second man was later released from the hospital. Police took one man in custody and four guns were recovered at the scene. The suspect's name has not been released.
The second shooting took place early Sunday morning in the area of 11th Street and Ocean Drive. One man was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he died. A second person was treated on the scene.
Cara Murphy, who is visiting from London with a group of girl friends, said she heard the gunshots while she was in bed.
"It's definitely been scarier than when we came here three years ago. I don't think I have ever ducked and hid from gunshots in my life and I've done it three times," she said.
Dontavious Leonard Polk, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, was taken into custody at the scene and he has now been charged with first-degree murder.
Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer had some strong words after reading a report about the incident.
"Basically, he executed the victim who was just walking down the street and shot and killed him with no provocation," she said.
The weekend violence had some calling for the curfew to continue into next week.
Miami Beach Vice Mayor Steven Meiner said his city, especially South Beach, is a great destination for residents and tourists alike but the violence, like what happened over the weekend, turns people off from visiting.
"That's the sad part," he said. "We are a pretty safe city but we have a couple of weekends a year that create a problem for us. It's every year that it happens. That's why we have to crack down on this. We have to make sure we get illegal guns off the streets, there are too many incidents. Thousands of people come and 99 percent enjoy themselves. It's a couple of incidents that ruin it."
Gelber has called the violence a "tourist" situation, where rowdy tourists are causing problems. Both of the weekend shootings did not involve Miami Beach residents, with one of the suspected gunmen was from Fort Lauderdale.
"It is clear that even an unprecedented police presence could not prevent these incidents from occurring," said Gelber.
So does Meiner think it's still accurate to attribute it to tourists?
"What he means is people who don't live in Miami Beach. We are a tourist city. We have tourists here all the time and we are a welcoming city. But clearly, a couple of weekends out of the year during Spring Break, we have crowds that really swell in size, and the amount of people is enormous," he said.
"It's sad that we have this issue with guns and violence and people just trying to have fun," said Dawn Schaefer-Stumpf, who is visiting from Minnesota.
"The incidents we are seeing, we are seeing it every year. We have shootings and people that died on the street. It's our responsibility, our foremost responsibility to protect residents and protect the people who come into our city. And once we can't do that, which happened this past weekend, we need to take more extreme measures," Meiner added.
According to city officials, at least 70 guns have been confiscated in Miami Beach over the last three weeks.
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