MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Beach police are trying to determine why a tourist from New York City was targeted, shot and killed early Sunday morning.
Lavon Walker was shot twice at 8th Street and Ocean Drive just before 7 a.m.
Surveillance video captured a white Jeep speeding through an intersection just a block away from the scene of the shooting.
Walker was taken to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital where he died.
Friends say Walker was a husband and father of two. They add his life was cut short by the type of violence he dedicated his life to prevent.
“It’s terrible considering that this was an activist who tried to curb gun violence,” said Mitch Novick, an activist from Miami Beach and the owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel.
The 30-year-old from Brooklyn was an ex-con who readily admitted that at one point in his life he had wreaked havoc on the streets of Crown Heights. But he changed his life and joined an organization called “Save Our Streets” which is on a mission to save young lives.
“I got a background myself that deals with violence but my mind was changed,” said Walker in an interview from 2011.
Walker’s friend said he was in South Florida to relax on the one year anniversary of his mother’s death. He was having breakfast at the News Cafe when three men in white Jeep Cherokee drove up and opened fire.
“Right after that, I heard a car screech away. I heard a guy scream like he was in major pain,” said Tavin Reiter.
Several people nearby, including Reiter, ran over to help.
“Between me and my other friends, one’s a nurse, we were the first people to help him. He got shot in the lower back and the knee,” he said.
Reiter said Walker was in pretty rough shape.
“He was just groaning and was going in and out of consciousness,” said Reiter.
Walker was taken to the hospital where he died. His family and friends are still trying to make sense of what happened.
His friend Kenneth Edwards posted on Facebook. It read in part:
“He was a Youth Minister at his church and constantly in the community fighting for individuals to resolve their differences peacefully. Sad that he lost his life in the manner which he fought to end.”
Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates said detectives have made significant progress in their investigation but are still working on motive.
One city leader doesn’t believe this was a random shooting.
“It does not appear to be random. It does appear there was some kind of previous knowledge between these folks. So tourist should have some reassurance that not only are police here to keep them safe and that we’re going to catch these guys, that this was not a random act,” said Commissioner Ricky Arriola.
Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS. There is a reward of up to $3,000.