Escalating Gun Violence Addressed at Community Meeting

MIAMI (WSVN) — A South Florida community came together to call for an end to a disturbing rise in gun violence in Miami in recent weeks, much of it involving teens. Meanwhile, a boy who was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting last week continues to fight for his life.

A few hundred people packed the sanctuary at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Miami to attend a meeting of community leaders, law enforcement and the public organized by Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson. “Who knows? They never know. I mean, it may end up at their doorstep, so hopefully it doesn’t take that much for them to move forward and really take this seriously,” said attendee Tanaka Charles, whose son was gunned down on May 23, 2010.

Two shootings in Miami have claimed the lives of two young male teens. Friday night, 14-year-old Gabriel Figueroa was fatally shot in the chest by someone inside a vehicle that had pulled up as the victim was hanging out with some friends near Northwest 52nd Street and 12th Avenue. Just before 8 p.m. Christmas night, three people were shot, one of them fatally, outside of the Express Food Center at Northwest Eighth Street and Fifth Avenue in Overtown.

Sixteen-year-old Bryce Brewton was one of nine young men injured last Monday in a drive-by shooting in Arcola Lakes Park in Northwest Miami-Dade. He was at a basketball game.

In cell phone video shot at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he continues to recover, Brewton remained hopeful. “Pray for me. I’m doing better. I’ll be walking soon,” he said as he looked into the camera from his bed.

Many community members are having difficulty grappling with the magnitude of so many acts of gun violence happening in such close succession to one another. “Before I could get to the grave site, and I had to wait 45 minutes because there were several funerals ahead of me, and the majority of those funerals ahead of me were young people under the age of 20,” said a speaker at the community meeting.

Aside from vowing to get the community engaged in voting, mentoring and utilizing the resources available for families and young people in need of help, Charles hopes an urgency to act comes out of this meeting before the violence hits too close to home like it did for her. “Maybe, hopefully, that this time it will make some movements in the community,” she said. “I’m going to keep my faith that whatever person tells me that they’re going to do, that they’re going to continue doing what they said they’re going to do.”

Charles said the trial of the shooter accused of killing her son is set for February.

Organizers of Monday night’s meeting said they plan to hold a rally at Arcola Lakes Park sometime next week.

Police are still searching for the shooters in these cases. Call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS if you have any information on any of these shooting. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.