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Miami Beach enacts spring break curfew after 2 fatal shootings

2 fatal shootings in Miami Beach over spring break
Fatal shootings prompt state of emergency in Miami Beach during spring break 01:48

Miami Beach officials declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew beginning Sunday night during spring break after two fatal shootings and rowdy, chaotic crowds that police have had difficulty controlling.

The city said in a news release the curfew would be from 11:59 p.m. Sunday until 6 a.m. Monday, with an additional curfew likely to be put in place Thursday through next Monday, March 27. The curfew mainly affects South Beach, the most popular party location for spring breakers.

The release said the two separate shootings Friday night and early Sunday that left two people dead and "excessively large and unruly crowds" led to the decision. The city commission plans a meeting Monday to discuss potential further restrictions next week.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in a video message posted Sunday that the crowds and presence of numerous firearms has "created a peril that cannot go unchecked" despite massive police presence and many city-sponsored activities meant to keep people busy.

"We don't ask for spring break in our city. We don't want spring break in our city. It's too rowdy, it's too much disorder and it's too difficult to police," Gelber said.

Gelber added that city officials would meet on Monday to discuss the possible curfew for next weekend, noting that the "manager's emergency powers are limited to only 72 hours."

The latest shooting, which police said was caught on surveillance video, appened about 3:30 a.m. Sunday on Ocean Drive in South Beach, according to Miami Beach police. 

Police closed off an area on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach with crime scene tape after a shooting on March 17, 2023. Miami Herald

Police said the suspect, "without any provocation," shot the victim multiple times. The victim died after being rushed to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. A second person was hurt, but treated at the scene and released, police said on Twitter.

The suspect, identified as Dontavious Polk, fled on foot and dropped a gun while being chased by a police officer, according to the arrest report. Police recovered that gun, which they claim had been stolen, and arrested the suspect after officers tackled him a few blocks away, the report said.

Police said on Twitter they also recovered a second firearm from the victim.

After he was arrested, the suspect was taken to Ryder Trauma Center for what police described as a "pre-existing gunshot wound." He was later discharged and taken to Turner Gilford Knight Correctional Center, police records showed.

Polk is facing a first degree murder charge, according to police records, although no charges had been officially filed as of Sunday night.

"MBPD has confirmed that this was a targeted and isolated incident," police tweeted. "The identities of all parties cannot be released while the investigation is ongoing."

In the Friday night shooting, one male victim was killed and another seriously injured, sending crowds scrambling in fear from restaurants and clubs into the streets as gunshots rang out. Police detained one person at the scene and found four firearms, but no other details have been made available.

Under the curfew, people must leave businesses before midnight, although hotels can operate later only in service to their guests. The city release said restaurants can stay open only for delivery and the curfew won't apply to residents, people going to and from work, emergency services and hotel guests. Some roads will be closed off and arriving hotel guests may have to show proof of their reservations.

Last year, the city imposed a midnight curfew following two shootings, also on Ocean Drive. The year before that, there were about 1,000 arrests and dozens of guns confiscated during a rowdy spring break that led Miami Beach officials to take steps aimed at calming the situation.  

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