- Faith & Family
Liberty City remains ground zero in the City of Miami’s fight against violence. And while both law enforcement and City officials agree that something must be done to stem the ominous tide of shootings, many resulting in death, there are clear differences as to the reasons behind this latest crime wave. In an article published by The Miami Times on June 6, Sergeant Ervens Ford, head of the homicide division for the City of Miami Police Department, acknowledged that the current trend and death rates suggest that we are in for “one of the bloodiest summers on record.”
The recent drive-by shooting of two friends last week in Liberty City, that left Ahmad Mackay, 29, dead and Frank Wiwo, 28, in critical condition, is but the latest incident of senseless violence. According to reports, a man in a silver-colored SUV sped down the block of 1000 NW 55th Street and opened fire. The two men were standing outside of a neighbor’s home.
Two other men were shot and killed while riding together in Liberty City several weeks earlier on June 26th. Greyston Garcia, 26, had just left his job at a convenience store and was in his truck when shots rang out in the 6900 block of NW 15th Avenue. Reports indicate that he was struck and killed by a stray bullet. When police arrived on the scene, they also found 16-year-old Ronald Dwayne Jones critically injured on an adjoining side street.
But deadly gunfire isn’t just occurring in Liberty City. On July 10th, one man was killed and another injured in Miami Gardens in a drive-by shooting on Miami Gardens Drive and NE 18th Avenue. All of these shootings remain unsolved — and officials continue to debate whose to blame and what to do.
Spence-Jones: “It’s gang warfare!”
City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones says there have been several shootings on her own block — the same street where her children play and has “had enough.”
“The City of Miami has a gang problem — for me that’s now a matter of fact,” she said “That’s why I met with the City of Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa on Monday,” she said. “We are going over strategies to bring all law enforcement agencies together. Frank [Wiko] was one of the good guys — a Rhodes Scholar and football standout who came back home and was coaching for the Liberty City Optimist Club. He was shot right here on my block. With the football season almost upon us, we have got to find some solutions to this escalating violence. We cannot allow this to spill over into our parks. That’s why we are sitting down with coaches and other volunteers to make sure we are all on the same page. When people see something suspicious going on, they have to call the police. As for all this ducking and dogging that some officials are doing, let me make it very plain — this appears to be gang-related violence. And we must put an end to it.”
City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said he too wants to stop the violence. But he was unwilling to attribute it to gangs.
“Before you can find a cure you have to know what the disease is,” he said. “I just don’t have enough evidence to say whether these shootings are gang-related, drug-related or summer heat-related. But holding marches and press conferences are not the solution. Nothing is more important to me than the safety of our citizens. A plan is now being formulated by the police department in conjunction with residents and clergy. It would be unwise to discuss the details of the plan, but there is a plan that we will unfold very soon.”
City of Miami Chief of Police Manuel Orosa was unavailable for comment.
On Wed., July 25 at 11 a.m., Spence-Jones will lead a group at the Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park for a ceremony that will pay tribute to victims of gun violence. New initiatives will be announced that day as part of the Hot Spot Campaign. Cast members of 48 Hours will also be on hand. And on Sat., Aug. 11, the 11th Annual Miami Peace in Da Hood Festival will take place on MLK Blvd, 62nd Street between 7th and 10th Avenue.
By D. Kevin McNeir