Watch CBS News

Opening statements in trial of man charged in northwest Miami-Dade banquet hall shooting

Trial begins for suspect in 2021 shooting at El Mula Banquet Hall
Trial begins for suspect in 2021 shooting at El Mula Banquet Hall 02:01

MIAMI -- There was emotional testimony Thursday at the Metro Justice Building after opening statements were  in the trial of Davonte Barnes who is charged in connection with the mass shooting outside a northwest Miami-Dade banquet hall over the 2021 Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Barnes faces three counts of first-degree murder and 21 counts of attempted murder. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

Miami-Dade police said he confessed to meeting with the suspects before the shooting and being a look out while it took place outside the El Mula Banquet Hall at 7630 Northwest 186th Street.

Desmond Owens, 26, Clayton Dillard III, 26, and Shaniqua Peterson, 32, were killed and nearly two dozen others were hurt in the May 30th mass shooting, which happened outside the hall where a crowd had gathered for a rap show.

Miami-Dade police said the shooting was a coordinated attack that involved two vehicles and at least five gunmen.

Ka'Dedra Thomas fought back tears as she recalled being shot three times in the back while waiting to get inside the banquet hall.

"It's crazy," she said, "something inside me told me to leave. I had a feeling that I wanted to leave. Everything happened so fast. It was like Boom, boom, boom. The next thing I heard was screaming on the floor and I was on the floor as they were shooting. Then I remember calling out for my friends and people were on the floor and they were scrambling.

"I thought my legs were gone," she said. "I was shot 3 times in the back."

Assistant State Attorney Kioceaia Stenson showed video in court of the crowd scrambling as shots were fired and the chilling 911 calls were also played from that night. She said that Barnes was the lookout in this case. 

Defense attorney Robert Barrar said "What they want you to find is guilt by association" and said the evidence against Barnes was "not reliable."

Armed individuals shot into crowd outside NW Dade banquet hall. (Source: Miami-Dade Police)

Surveillance video from that night captured a white SUV shows three masked gunmen getting out of the vehicle before opening fire on the crowd gathered outside. They are then seen running back to the SUV and speeding away. The stolen SUV was found later in a canal.

Opening statements in trial of suspect in NW Dade banquet hall shooting 00:19

Police said they believed the mass shooting was targeted and likely connected to an ongoing rivalry between two groups.

Warneric Buckner was also arrested in connection to the shooting and faced three counts of murder and 20 counts of attempted murder.

Police say he admitted to jumping out of an SUV and shooting into the crowd.

However, prosecutors later dropped the charges. They said though when he was questioned by investigators implicating himself and other gunmen, they noted "...the Defendant initially invoked his right to counsel, and despite the invocation, homicide investigators with the Miami-Dade Police Department continued to conduct an interrogation."

In other words, they violated Buckner's Miranda rights, so his statement would be inadmissible in court.  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.