The intensive search for three killers continued for a third day on Tuesday in Miami after a violent drive-by shooting left two people dead and 21 people injured outside a banquet hall early Sunday.
One day later, another drive-by shooting left two people wounded while an attempted robbery turned into a gunfight as Miami struggles to gain control of unprecedented gun violence. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told reporters for the Miami Herald that the attempted robbery on Monday quickly turned “into a shootout.”
As for the deadly shooting on Sunday, police say the men used assault rifles and handguns to shoot at a crowd that had attended a concert at the hall. Officials have been unable to determine a motive for the attack but believe it stems from a rivalry between two groups.
“Our law enforcement teams . . . are doing everything possible to bring those responsible for this weekend’s violent acts to justice,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tweeted late Monday. “And we will work harder than ever to break the cycle of gun violence and prevent the next tragedy.”
Several people in the crowd were armed and returned fire, resulting in 23 people shot, two of whom died at the scene, police said. The victims have not been identified.
Miami-Dade police director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III called the banquet hall attack a “cowardly act of gun violence” and promised to seek justice against “these cold-blooded murderers.”
County Commissioner Keon Hardemon said at a news conference Monday that the shooting, and others in recent days, has had a chilling effect on the community.
“We have to be clear about what’s happening in Miami-Dade County,” Hardemon said. “These are acts of domestic terrorism.”
In efforts to bring the assailants to justice, several rewards have been offered including Camping World CEO and TV personality Marcus Lemonis who has put up $100,000 as a means of assisting authorities “arrest and convict” the suspects. The Miami division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has added $25,000 to the reward while Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers have contributed $5,000 bringing the total to $130,000.
“This is our community, we are stronger together,” Ramirez said. “We need our county to step up with information.”
Del. Levine, Candidate for Virginia Lt. Governor: ‘Prayers Aren’t Cutting It’
Closer to home here in the greater Washington area, with just one week remaining until the June 8 Virginia Democratic primary election, Delegate Mark Levine has taken on gun reform as a major component of his campaign as illustrated in a recent television ad, “Every Fifteen Minutes.”
The ad highlights Levine’s leadership in the House of Delegates fighting for common-sense gun safety legislation. He has introduced and secured the passage of several bills aimed at preventing gun violence.
Two of Levine’s 2021 gun bills have recently been signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam: HB2081, “Safe Polls Law,” prohibits guns in polling places while HB2295, “Safe Capitol Law,” prohibits guns in the Capitol, Capitol Square and all state-owned buildings and offices.
Levine begins the TV ad by saying, “Every fifteen minutes, an American is shot dead with a gun. What’s been the response?”
The ad then shows former president Donald Trump, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) each responding to separate instances of gun violence:
Trump: “Our thoughts and prayers . . . “
Ryan: “Our first thoughts are with the families . . .”
McConnell: “Keep them in our prayers . . . “
Thune: “Our prayers are with the injured . . . “
In response, Levine says the following:
“I’ve led the fight for universal background checks and keeping guns from people with severe mental illness. As your Lieutenant Governor, I’ll never stop fighting to make Virginia a safer place to live, work and go to school. Because Virginia deserves active leadership.”
“Thoughts and prayers just aren’t cutting it,” he concludes.
Pandemic Hasn’t Stopped Mass Shootings, Just Limited Exposure to the Public
Large-scale shootings have not stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic – they’ve just become less public, researchers say.
The Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator, counted more than 600 such shootings in 2020, compared with 417 in 2019.
That trend has continued into 2021 with at least 232 mass shootings as of May 26. (Including Wednesday’s shooting in San Jose, Calif, the Archive has counted 15 mass murders, which it defines as four or more people killed, in 2021.)
There’s no consensus for the definition of a mass shooting which complicates efforts of nonprofits and news organizations to document the severity of the problem.
However, The Violence Project uses the narrow definition of the Congressional Research Service which requires attacks to be in public and exclude domestic shootings and those “attributable to underlying criminal activity.”
An explanation promoted by CNN defines a mass shooting as one with four or more injuries or deaths.
Despite the nuances that shape and differentiate the definition, few can dispute the persistence of the problem in the U.S.
Some mass shootings remain prevalent in our nation’s conversations because of the number of people killed, the motivations of the assailants or the apparent randomness of the crimes. When these factors are cited, mass killings like Columbine, Newtown or Parkland immediately come to mind. But America has witnessed numerous other mass killings which fail to garner the same kind of attention.
In 2021 alone, there has already been a disturbing rash of mass shootings and senseless gun violence, often leading to the death of innocent adults and children:
May 26, San Jose, Calif.: Nine people were killed in a shooting at a rail yard while the gunman, a transit worker, also died after taking his own life.
May 9, Colorado Springs: A man killed six people before fatally shooting himself at a birthday party at a mobile home park. Friends, family and children were gathered inside when the shooting occurred. The gunman was “a boyfriend of one of the female victims,” the police said.
April 28, Boone, N.C.: A 32-year-old man killed his mother, stepfather and two police officers before fatally shooting himself at the end of a 13-hour standoff. Another officer was struck by gunfire but avoided injury because the bullet hit his Kevlar helmet.
April 15, Indianapolis: At least eight people were killed, not including a gunman who was believed to have taken his own life after opening fire in a FedEx warehouse. Family members said workers were unable to use their cellphones on the job, leaving them unable to confirm their safety for hours.
April 7, Rock Hill, S.C.: A former N.F.L. player shot and killed a doctor, the doctor’s wife and their two grandchildren inside their house, as well as two air-conditioning technicians who were working outside the home. The gunman later killed himself, the authorities said.
April 3, Allen, Texas: Authorities said two brothers killed four family members before killing themselves. The bodies were discovered after the police arrived at the home for a welfare check.
March 31, Orange, Calif.: A gunman opened fire at a real estate office, killing four people, including a 9-year-old boy. The shooting was most likely related to a “business and personal relationship which existed between the suspect and all of the victims,” the authorities said.
March 28, Essex, Md.: A gunman killed his parents, two people at a convenience store and then himself in a shooting spree, the police said.
March 22, Boulder, Colo.: A gunman inside a grocery store killed 10 people, including the first police officer to arrive at the scene. The gunman was injured and taken into custody.
March 16, Atlanta: Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed at three spas, at least two of which had been frequented by the gunman. The attack caused particular alarm among many Asian-Americans.
March 13, Indianapolis: A shooting near the city’s east side left four people dead, including a 7-year-old child and critically wounded a woman, the authorities said. The police said the shooting stemmed from a domestic dispute.
Feb. 2, Muskogee, Okla.: Five children and a man were killed and a woman was seriously injured when they were shot at a home. A brother of one of the victims was arrested at the scene. The police said they believed that the victims were related.
Jan. 24, Indianapolis: Five people, including a pregnant woman, were found dead inside a home after the authorities came in contact with a juvenile male, who was suffering from gunshot wounds. A day after the shooting, he was arrested.
Jan. 9, Evanston, Ill.: At least five people, including a 15-year-old girl, were killed in a shooting spree in the Chicago area, the police said. The gunman shot a total of seven people before he was killed by the police.
Chicago’s Memorial Day Weekend of Three Deaths, 34 Injuries ‘Best’ in Recent Years
While the Chicago Police Department canceled days off and put officers on 12-hour shifts as community leaders worked to remove people out of the line of fire, one irony ensued during the Memorial Day Weekend. The Windy City reported its least violent holiday weekend in three years: three deaths and 34 wounded in shootings across the city.
Despite the overall tally equating that recorded in 2018, last weekend counted as less deadly than three years ago when seven were killed and 30 others wounded. Last year, 10 people were shot dead and 39 others wounded over the holiday weekend.
Most of the people shot this year, 21 in total, were attacked on the Southside according to a Sun-Times analysis. Meanwhile, despite the pandemic, statistics released by Chicago police indicate that the number of shooting victims has risen 24% over the same period last year. Through the end of May, 1,386 people have been shot in Chicago, a jump from 1,116 during the same time in 2020.
Murders have risen 5% compared to 2020, with the police department reporting 252 murders so far this year.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the police superintendents who work for her have repeatedly blamed judges when the city’s violence starts to rise arguing that if judges would keep more people locked up after arrest, then they wouldn’t be able to commit crimes, and violence in Chicago would decrease.
This kind of rationale has remained popular with U.S. politicians and reflects the thinking that has propelled mass incarceration. But many of the highest-ranking city officials and activists dispute the mayor’s claim.
“We can’t keep our community safe if people just keep cycling through the system,” Lightfoot has long complained.
But some city leaders, including former Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Susan Lee, continue to take Lightfoot to task.
Lee says the data does not support Lightfoot’s premise which “attributes violence to the people bonding out” of jail, referring to the process in which people accused of crimes can pay money to be released from jail if a judge finds they would not be a threat to public safety.
“Very few folks who bond out actually commit violent offenses with a gun,” Lee said, adding that there have long been “concerns about the quality of this data from some,” but that the Chicago Police Department, while invited to review the data, failed to do so.
“It never happened,” Lee said, pointing to a major reason that has allowed the talking point to persist.