MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A day after a mass shooting at a Liberty City apartment complex, police say it appears the shooting was gang-related and retaliation for a previous incident.
“We believe it was a retaliatory shooting for something that happened before. We just need to put the pieces together,” said Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa.
Miami police chief manuel orosa says people were drinking alcohol outside the building when the gunmen fired automatic weapons.
“The common denominator is drugs or something stupid that happens that people decide because of turf, because of pride they decide to shoot up the neighborhood,” said Orosa. “I think this is going to be one of those incidents….we are following leads, talking to victims.”
Four of the seven survivors are still at Jackson memorial hospital. Two of them said they are going to be okay while two others requested privacy.
One victim said she’s fortunate to be alive. Seventeen-year-old Jessica Martin, the youngest victim, was shot six times—twice in the chest. She said she never saw the gunmen.
“I heard the shots. I was with my boyfriend and we both got down on the ground,” Jessica said in a phone interview from her hospital bed. “I didn’t even know I was shot until I felt a sharp pain in my chest.”
Martin’s sister, who identified herself only as M.J., told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “She’s shaken up. Her demeanor is that she is really scared. She is in a lot of pain. She got shot six times, twice in the chest and down here on the knee twice and on both ankles. I just hope some good samaritan will come forward. Several others were hurt. My sister is hurt, two people are dead. And they have families. They will never see them again. I hope somebody will come forward.”
Jackson Memorial Hospital trauma surgeon, Dr. Gabriel Ruiz, operated on Martin.
He told D’Oench, “It did hit vital organs but due to rapid action of the hospital system and quick action taken by the team, we were able to take control. She’s fortunate to be alive.
Wonda Jackson said her son, 27-year-old Devone McNeal, was shot twice, once in the back.
“I just tell them they ain’t got no heart. They ain’t got a conscience. How can you do something so tragic to somebody else,” said Wonda Jackson.
McNeal’s family members told CBS4 that McNeal didn’t live at the apartment building where the shooting happened.
“My cousin was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was supposed to be home but he went to go to the store,” said the victim’s cousin, Kwame McNeal. “It’s when he was walking back, gun fire starts.”
In a phone interview, McNeal said “I’m feeling better.”
“I had my back turned,” McNeal said. “I was fixing to get up and walk away. I was going to leave. And I got shot in the back.”
Matthew, who didn’t want his last name in this report, said he heard about the shooting on the news and saw that one of his friends had been hit.
“When I saw his mama, I knew it was him, to see my friend like that. Its sad, it hurt me,” said Matthew. “That neighborhood there is just bad, that’s a bad neighborhood bro, it’s dangerous any time of the day. Its dangerous anytime of the day, I just wanna tell them stay from around that area man.”
According to witnesses, around 2 a.m. two men pulled up a in car across from the Liberty Square housing complex, stopped on the street and then started firing assault weapons at those standing outside, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. Police believe they may have been specifically targeting someone.
Police said more than 60 rounds were fired. The gunfire shattered car windows and went through the walls of some apartments where people like Tommy Williams slept.
“I was on the couch when the bullets just woke me up” said Williams.
In total seven people were injured and two men, 29-year old Kevin Richardson and 26-year old Nakeri Jackson, were killed.
Richardson’s family said he left behind a six year old son.
“The person that shot my nephew is a coward. He didn’t bother Anybody. He wasn’t a bad person,” said Bennae Robinson.
Jackson’s family, who said he went by Keiltron, said this was just another senseless shooting and they need to end.
“If it was you, why would you kill, just stop, just stop,” said Jackson’s aunt Cynthia Jackson Woods as she left the coroner’s office. “That’s all I can say. Just stop killing out people and turn yourself in, please.”
The Liberty Square complex does have gunshot detection sensors armed with cameras mounted to telephone poles. The sensors can pinpoint the location of gunfire within seconds and alert the police. However, the police say the system is not fully installed so they were not able to capture images of the gunmen. They add that they hope it will be operational soon.
Nathaniel Wilcox, the Executive Director of P.U.L.S.E., People United to lead the Struggle for Equality, said, “These cameras can track people movements and even zoom in on license. My concern is that I have been working with the Housing Department and police for five years to make sure these crime cameras are up and running. We want to know why these cameras aren’t working. We don’t want excuses. People are dying.”
Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa is asking anyone who knows anything to step forward.
“Anybody that knows any information about what happened last night, please give us a call…There’s been a lot of speculation that this is gang related…We believe this was a retaliatory shooting over something that happened before. We just need to put the pieces together,” said Chief Orosa.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.