MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – A man killed in a police involved shooting Miami Beach over the Memorial Day weekend is believed to be the same man wanted for shooting a gas station clerk in Boynton Beach last November.
Boyton Beach detectives told CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald that they were reading about the shooting at the end of Urban Beach Week and recognized 22-year old Raymond Herisse, the man who died in a hail of bullets from a dozen police officers guns, as the gunman who shot a BP gas station clerk on November 21st. Police said the clerk picked Herisse’s picture out of photo line up and positively identified as the man who shot him.
According to the clerk, he had walked around the side of the station to the bathroom when he was approached by two men wearing shirts around their faces. As he opened the bathroom door, he noticed one of the men pulled a gun and shot at him twice, one of the bullets striking him in the chin. The 30-year old clerk said he then drew his own gun and started shooting at them as they fled, he didn’t know if he hit either of them.
On Wednesday Miami Beach police confirmed that they found a gun in the bullet ridden car Herisse died in.
“They located a Berretta 92F semi-automatic pistol,” said Miami Beach Police Det. Juan Sanchez. “That gun has been entered into evidence and will undergo ballistic testing.”
Police say ballistic testing will determine if the gun was ever fired during the melee.
Police opened fire just before 4:00 a.m. Monday, May 30th, after Herisse reportedly got into an altercation with an officer at 18th Street and Collins Avenue. Miami Beach police said it wasn’t Herisse’s first attempt to strike an officer.
“From the initial stop, there was an attempt to strike an officer with his vehicle and there was an attempt later on on Collins Avenue to strike two other officers that I’m aware off, at approximately 15th and Collins, and there was an attempt to strike two officers on bicycles somewhere down the 1300 block of Collins Avenue. So to the best of my knowledge at this point, a total of five officers were almost struck by this individual,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega.
A YouTube video that captured the shooting showed officers approaching the stalled car with guns drawn before unleashing a hail of gunfire into the vehicle; more than 100 rounds were fired.
Miami Beach police have yet to release the names of any of the 12 officers involved in the shootings; eight were Miami Beach officers and four were Hialeah police officers. Three police officers were injured and four bystanders were hit by flying bullets in the chaos surrounding the shooting.
Sgt. Alejandro Bello, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, said the dozen officers involved in the shooting acted reasonably.
“I’m confident that my officers and all officers involved acted appropriately,” Bello said. “We’re getting information that this guy was armed or that there was a shooting going on.”
Bello said he plans to lobby Beach politicians to do something about Urban Beach Week and how the event is handled by the city.
“This cannot continue this way,” he said.
Wednesday evening Miami Beach commissioners met to debate possible restrictions that could be placed on Urban Beach Week the city’s popular but polarizing – and unofficial – hip-hop street party which attracts between 200,000 and 300,000 people.
Commissioners’ proposals include curfews, forcing an early last call for clubs and bars, and eliminating all traffic in the city’s entertainment district.
“It’s time we just admit that we’re not equipped to handle a street festival with no place for people to go,” said Commissioner Deede Weithorn, who said a Saturday night out with police and code enforcement convinced her that the city should shut off traffic on Ocean Drive and Collins and Washington avenues after 10 p.m. during Urban Beach Week.
Business owners, police, activists and residents have been abuzz since early Monday morning, when officers shot and killed the driver of a car that allegedly struck a Hialeah officer, then led police on a three-block chase down Collins Avenue, crashing into cars, running up on the sidewalk and nearly crushing bicycle officers before skidding to a stop at 13th Street.
Commissioner Jerry Libbin, also president and CEO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, proposed a curfew. Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, however, dismissed that idea as unfeasible. Instead she supports a move to end alcohol sales at bars and clubs earlier than the South Beach standard 5 a.m.
“It’s something that happens by itself. We in the city of Miami Beach do not give any permits that day. And even though it’s called an event, there is no such event,” she said referring to Urban Beach weekend. “I think that’s why it is so hard to control.”
Bower said there’s frustration from all parties.
“I want the residents to understand that we are all frustrated,” she said. “The staff is frustrated, the police are frustrated, the residents are frustrated.”
Still, Bower says the city doesn’t have much ability to end Urban Beach Week, considering the throngs of tourists who flood Miami Beach’s Art Deco district don’t come for city permitted events, but for private concerts and parties.
“There is very little we can do,” she said, adding that scrutiny from the American Civil Liberties Union — which has called for a transparent and independent investigation into the Collins Avenue shooting — “ties our hands” when it comes to enforcement measures.
Urban Beach Week hit its 10th anniversary this year. Its history has been marked by controversy, including four fatal shootings, allegations of racial profiling and now police bloodshed. This year, police arrested 431 people, up from 382 last year.
Marlon Hill, a lawyer, represents Urban Beach Week promoters and he says they should not be the scapegoats.
“The promoters are only one stakeholder in this tourism economy of ours. The promoters have to work together with the business owners, residents, government officials to create a visitor experience that we can all be proud of,” Hill said.
Terrance Smith, the founder of BlackBeachWeek.com and a main promoter of a number of Memorial Day weekend parties from Jamaica to Cancun, Mexico, said he is conducting an informal poll to see how people feel about Urban Beach Week and the fatal Monday morning shootings. He said he will promote the event again next year if people still are interested.
“I don’t care if the community says end this event,” he said. “If the people are coming and booking hotels, I can’t just stop it.”
And Carlene Sawyer, an ACLU representative who spends time each Memorial Day weekend monitoring the enforcement of South Beach crowds, said it may be shortsighted to let one “horrible” incident mar an otherwise successful event.
“People are calling for the city to close it down and what they’re trying to get is ordinances that would force that,” she said. “But this is a market-driven event.”
Resident Randi Hofer, a South Beach resident, offered some ideas on what could be changed.
“No liquor beyond the point [of leaving a bar] so it helps to get people who are running around with bottles of liquor. When you come across [the causeway] there should be scanners that scan every single license plate for homeland security, if you have a stolen car,” Hofer said.
Click here to read more about the recent South Beach Shooting.