MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A mother and a community of young people are mourning the death of their childhood friend, shot to death in a Northwest Miami-Dade apartment complex.
“To let a coward take him like that, it’s not right,” said Nadia Coles, the mother of the 15-year-old victim Joawaun Coles. She told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “He was a sweet kid, an honest kid. He was a child that any mother would pray to have. He didn’t do anything bad. He meant the world to me. He was my baby.”
The shooting happened around 9 p.m. Monday at NW 17 Avenue and NW 79 Street.
Witnesses said a group of men in their 20s were sitting at a table when two men, one with an assault rifle, ran up to them and opened fire on them. As the shots rang out those in the area scattered. Friends of the teen who died, 15-year old Joewuan Coles, said they’re feeling a mix of intense hurt and anger.
“Everybody just started running and I just seen him hit the floor first. I knew when they started picking him up, I seen blood coming out of his mouth and he was limp, I couldn’t do nothing but cry,” said friend Dwayne Nelson. “They (the police) better catch them before we catch them.”
The cry for retribution is one that concerns some in the neighborhood. A woman who identified herself as Miss V told CBS4’s Natalia Zea that said she’s close to Coles’s family and considered him a nephew. Through her hurt she stayed on her message to his friends, “Don’t go looking for no trouble.”
She also had a message for the man who pulled the trigger.
“We may be crying now but your family is going to be crying also and it’s not right,” said Miss V.
Coles and three of the injured men were taken to the Ryder Trauma Center where he died.
Police said it appears Coles was an innocent bystander who paid with his life.
“It appears as if this child, we can call him a child even though he’s in his early teens, was standing around and was not the target,” said police Det. Alvaro Zabaleta. “Once again gun violence has struck one of our teenagers.
The fourth injured man was taken by a friend to North Shore Medical Center. He was then transferred to the Ryder Trauma Center.
Neighbors and friends left gifts and notes at a makeshift memorial in front of one of the apartments.
“That was my baby, why, why they’d take my baby,” said Joewuan’s mother Nadia through tears as she read notes of remembrance scrawled on a cardboard sign. “A sweet kid, an honest kid, a child that any mother prays for. He didn’t do no bad.”
Coles was a freshman at Miami Northwestern Senior High School and was planning to try out for the football team. He was also getting ready to start a new job at a community center.
“That’s my world, that’s my home, my everything and to let a coward just come and take him like that, it’s not right,” said Nadia Coles.
His grandmother, Danielle Coles, said the violence needs to end.
“This needs to stop. It’s just crazy. It’s too crazy. They are all killing each other and for what reason, ” said Danielle Coles.
The victim’s brother, Joseph McFadden, said “He didn’t do anything wrong. This is messed up.
I don’t understand this.”
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he was saddened to hear about the loss of another teen life to gun violence.
“It’s killing of the innocence of our community one murderous bullet at a time. I’m appealing directly to individuals in the community, who know more than they are telling, to step up anonymously and provide information that will bring about some solutions to these crimes,” said Carvalho.
Pastor Eric Readon of New Beginnings Baptist Church said they will add a thousand dollars to the Crime Stoppers’ reward of up to $3,000 for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible.
“Break this code of silence. This is her child today. This could be your child tomorrow,” said Readon.
He said he would be leading a prayer vigil for the family scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday at the apartment complex.
CBS4 caught up with Miami-Dade Police officers on Tuesday afternoon as they went door-to-door at the apartment complex passing out flyers for the county’s gun bounty program. The flyers mention that there is a $1,000 cash reward for information that leads to a person with an illegal gun.
Meanwhile, there is a growing makeshift memorial by the scene of the crime with stuffed animals. One of Coles’s football trophies is on top of that memorial.
Police and witnesses have no clear description of the shooter or the getaway driver. The four men who were shot are doing well, according to their friends in the apartment complex.
“Come forward and come tell what you know. It’s going to come to your door sooner or later. You’re going want someone to come forward and tell whatever they know,” said Nadia Coles.
Anyone with information should call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).