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Gang Violence Growing In North Miami-Dade

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(Photo Credit: AP)

(Photo Credit: AP)

Jim-DeFede-600x450 Jim DeFede
Jim DeFede joined CBS4 News in January 2006, providing reg...
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MIAMI (CBS4) Almost 48 hours after gunmen opened fire on a crowd outside a funeral home – wounding twelve and killing two – Opa Locka City Manager Bryan Finnie was still in a state of disbelief.

“I can’t begin to even discuss how I’m processing this,” Finnie told CBS4’s Jim DeFede on Sunday. “This is totally new. Funeral homes, churches have been sacrosanct. I mean that’s been safe ground and to see that now – I’m still processing it. To me it’s still unbelievable. I have not accepted it yet.”

Friday’s carnage was one of the worst mass shootings in South Florida history. Among those wounded was a five-year-old girl who will grow up with a bullet lodged in her leg.

The shooting also capped off an exceptionally bloody month of gang violence on Miami Dade’s North Side.

Police sources estimate that along a stretch of the county no more than seven or eight miles long and three or four miles wide as many as 30 people were shot and eight killed in March.

“It’s the North Side, it’s Liberty City, it’s Miami Gardens, it’s Opa Locka, it’s Model Cities,” Finnie noted. “I mean this is one community, its different boundaries but its one community, one family, and we should have one goal to resolve this issue.”

In the midst of that violent swath of land rests Mama Lucy’s All Pro Ribs at the corner of 119th street and NW 22nd avenue.

“There is just so much mayhem,” one of the restaurants cook’s, Rod, explained as he tended to a side of ribs grilling on an outdoor barbecue. “It’s hard out here right now you know “

When Rod heard about the shooting at the funeral home – and learned a 5 year old was among the victims – he thought of his own family.

“I have kids so I can’t even imagine it right now,” the 27-year-old said. “But why would somebody shoot up a funeral home? I don’t understand that.”

Law enforcement sources tell CBS4 News that members of four or five rival gangs had gone to the Funeraria Latina Funeral Home on West Dixie Highway to pay their respects to 21-year-old Morvin Andre who died when he jumped from the fourth floor of the parking garage at the Aventura Mall. At the time, he was trying to evade Bloomingdale store security.

During Friday’s wake one of the gang members reportedly reached into Andre’s casket and touched his body in a way others took as being disrespectful.

An argument ensued and members of one of the gangs went to their car, retrieved an assault rifle and a handgun and as they drove off opened fire on the crowd outside as the funeral home.

“We’ve got a lot of young immature kids who are wanna be gang members getting caught up in this retribution and these senseless, senseless shootings,” Finnie said.

Finnie takes little comfort that this particular shooting took place outside the borders of his city – in unincorporated Miami Dade County. There has been plenty of violence in his city as well.

“It’s just very stressful,” he noted, “because you always want to think, `Are we doing enough? Are we doing the right thing?”

Law enforcement sources tell CBS4 News they are bracing a violent summer as tensions among rival gangs continue to increase.

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