Reporting Maggie Newland
New Year's Eve South Florida Style
MIAMI LAKES (CBS4)- Following a Christmas melee in the main street area of Miami Lakes, the mayor is speaking out to assure residents that the city is safe and explaining why there is now a curfew in effect for all teenagers.
The teen curfew went into effect Friday night in Miami Lakes following a chaotic Dec. 25 melee and shooting that caused police to declare a “countywide emergency” in the suburb off the Palmetto Expressway.
Police began enforcing an 8 p.m. curfew and round up unaccompanied minors starting Friday, Dec. 30th after town officials vowed to step up police presence at the outdoor Main Street Mall.
Thousands of teenagers descended on the mall in part because of a rash of Twitter and Facebook messages encouraging kids to turn out on Christmas night, according to Miami Lakes officials.
“All over the place. It was really crazy,” said Ariel Martinez, the Miami Lakes resident who posted the video of the chaos on YouTube.
On Saturday, Mayor Michael A. Pizzi, Jr. called the Christmas chaos an isolated incident. he said it has never happened before and he went so far as to say “read my lips” it will never happen again.
The mayor promises an overwhelming police presence from now on, but he said police patrolling will be off duty officers hired by the businesses and shops in the main street shopping area.
“The town is now mandating they have police on main street and that they pay for it so the stepped up security and the curfew we’ve solved the problem and we’ve done it without expense to the taxpayers,” he said.
But there is still confusion as to what exactly happened but what officials do know is that a mob of teenagers stampeded through the shopping center when either firecrackers, gunshots, or both exploded outside the Cobb movie theater.
Police said as many as 5,000 people were gathered outside the theater when someone set off fireworks and cherry bombs which caused the crowd to scatter quickly. Many ran inside the theater where manager Jessica Cordova said an officer was punched in the face and two of her employees were attacked. Police have not confirmed reports that an officer was assaulted, or whether any arrests had been made.
Then came the gunshots. One bullet hit 16-year-old Derek Rodriguez. He was outside the theater around 10:30 p.m. when a fight broke out. He ran and didn’t realize he’d been hit until he got to his friend’s car. The bullet passed through the right side of his chest and into his bicep.
That led to town officials starting an 8 p.m. curfew for minors not accompanied by a parent.
“The efforts to say, if you want to be here, be here with a parent, that’s very appropriate,” said Dave Graveline, a radio personality who just moved his studio to Main Street. His nationally-syndicated radio show, “Into Tomorrow,” will is broadcast from a street-side studio here.
“A fine, upscale community like Miami Lakes is not where you have that kind of commotion,” said Graveline.
Police from nine agencies responded to the violence.
“In this case, I guess it was Miami Lakes’ turn to get a big crowd, and hopefully, it”s the last time,” said Graveline.