Birthday celebration in Opa-locka turns deadly

caines | 7/26/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Two killed, three injured in senseless shooting

An unknown assailant fired approximately 30 shots into a crowd of peaceful revelers last Saturday evening, turning a birthday celebration into a night of despair. In the end, five people were struck by the barrage of gunshots two of the victims died. The two men killed, Xavier Bodie, 27 and Clifford Hill, 30, according to Antonio Sanchez, spokesperson and a deputy chief with the Opa-locka Police Department, had both been arrested and imprisoned numerous times. But on Saturday, they were simply on hand to honor the memory of a friend who had recently died. Those wounded include: Quinton Toombs, 34, and Willie Thompkins, 18, both from Opa-locka and Cedric Johnson, 39, a Miami resident. According to reports from witnesses, around 10:45 p.m. last Saturday, a car pulled up on a peaceful crowd having fun at 151st Street and NW 18th Avenue often referred to as The Triangle an area in the City bordered by NW 151st Street, Ali Baba Avenue and NW 22nd Street historically known for high levels of drug trafficking and other crimes. Witnesses say someone got out of the car and began firing at random. An investigation into what led to the shooting and who is responsible continues with both Opa-locka police and the Miami-Dade Police homicide bureau seeking answers. Sanchez says the event while certainly tragic, is out of character given what has taken place in The Triangle over the past year. Without question in the past it has been an area of great concern and has a reputation for being extremely violent, Sanchez said. But over the last year we have made great strides. This is the first real act of violence that has taken place there since the year started. Thats been possible because of our work with the community. Most of the folks here are hard-working people who are facing tough financial realities that make it impossible for them to move. But for some this has been their home for generations and they want to stay right here. Our police chief, Cheryl Cason, was raised in The Triangle. Sanchez admits that things are far from rosy and that drug sales are still a problem. But he notes that through strategic efforts and with more resources things are getting better in Opa-locka. Police ask that those with information call M-D Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477 or Opa-locka investigators at 305-681-1033. Callers may remain anonymous. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com