Miami-Dade unveils plan to crack down on 'brutal killings': 'Not on our watch'

Miami-Dade police release surveillance video of suspects in mass shooting

Surveillance video shows masked gunmen entering Florida banquet hall before they open fire on crowd.

Officials in Florida’s Miami-Dade County announced Thursday the launch of a crime-fighting operation to combat gun violence days after two brazen shootings rocked the region in a bloody holiday weekend. 

Just hours after they spoke at a news conference, authorities confirmed that a third victim had died following a shooting Sunday morning outside a banquet hall in Hialeah. The latest victim was identified as Shankquia Peterson, 32, Miami FOX station WSVN-TV reported.

Police and elected leaders said their 12-week initiative, dubbed “Operation Summer Heat,” will consist of more police patrols in cities throughout the county along with overtime and greater efforts to monitor social media and the sharing of intelligence across law enforcement agencies. 

The initiative will also see more surveillance cameras in problem areas.

“No man or woman should feel comfortable driving around with assault weapons to commit a crime in a stolen vehicle,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at the news conference. “This will not happen, Not on our watch!”

Beginning Friday, 17 strike teams comprised of code enforcement officers working alongside law enforcement officers will be targeting illegal businesses, a source of some of the violence that has permeated throughout the county, Cava said. 

The announcement came days after three gunmen opened fire on a banquet hall early Sunday, killing a total of three people and injuring 20 others. They waited in a stolen SUV in a parking lot for about an hour prior to the shooting, authorities said. 

Aside from Peterson, the mother of a 12-year-old son, the other two victims were identified as Desmond Owens and Clayton Dillard, both 26, according to WSVN.

Video surveillance footage shows the suspects running up to a crowd standing outside the El Mula banquet hall in Hialeah and unleashing a barrage of gunfire where they shot 23 people within a few seconds. 

The vehicle they used was later found submerged in a canal. No arrests have been made. Investigators believe the rampage was in retaliation over an undisclosed matter. 

Authorities announced the death of Peterson hours after the news conference. 

“I am saddened to report that a third victim did not survive her injuries,” Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez tweeted. “No family should have to suffer such loss. We are working around the clock relentlessly to bring these killers to justice.”

On Monday, two people were wounded during a shooting at the popular Prime 112 steakhouse in Miami Beach. Two people have been arrested, including a rapper associated with hip hop star “DaBaby.”

Ramirez said this operation will be different from others in the past. 

“These are extravagant acts of vicious brutal killings,” he said. “This is something we’ve never seen before and now they’re [criminal suspects] going to see something they’ve never seen before.”

Law enforcement officials work the scene of a shooting outside a banquet hall near Hialeah, Fla., on Sunday. (Associated Press)

Romania Dukes, founder of Mothers Fighting for Justice who lost her son to gun violence, praised the initiative. 

“I lost my son 10 steps away from me from senseless gun violence,” she said. “I am here to say stop the silence. The silence must stop now. You all give us justice if you speak up.  If you see something say something.”

New Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo urged the public to hold back on any acts of retaliation.

“To the mothers, the brothers, the sisters, the aunts, the cousins of people we are looking for … let us handle it,” he said. “The streets shouldn’t dole out justice, it should be the criminal justice system.”

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