Community members are still trying to cope with a spate of violence that led to four shootings in four days in tiny Dania Beach, Fla. Relatives suspect an ongoing feud between two groups is to blame in this city north of Miami for filling the holiday week with the sound of gunfire.
Police have made two arrests, but provided no motives. What’s not in question is the human toll that has been exacted — two injured and two killed, including an 8-year-old shot while walking home from a birthday party.
Police say Rasheed Cunningham Jr. was a few blocks from home when he was killed. He was walking home from the party with two adult relatives and a small group of children about 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“There was a black car [that pulled] up, stopped right here,” witness Veronica Larkens told CBS-affiliate WQAM. “But the individual had on a ski mask, so I couldn’t see the actual face.
“Somebody gets out of the car you can hear, ‘pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,’ then they jump back in the car, slam the door and went back in reverse.”
Witness Sonia Hughes told ABC-affilate WPLG that any of the 15 children walking could have been struck by the hail of gunfire.
“He didn’t deserve this, and it could’ve been my child, because she was walking with them at the time,” Hughes said. “It’s going to be anybody’s child, but now y’all killing kids. It really has to stop.”
One of the adult relatives moved to shield the children, witnesses told the news station.
When paramedics arrived, they found three people shot — Rasheed and the two adults. Rasheed had the worst injuries.
— Silva Harapetian (@silvaharapetian) December 29, 2016
He was taken to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, but his injuries were too severe. The third-grader at Collinsville Elementary School died at the hospital.
Outside the police tape that night, news cameras captured Rasheed’s family coping with the tragic news. His grandmother collapsed, wailing.
“I didn’t know that was the last kiss he was going to give me yesterday morning. He said, ‘Grandma I love you,’ ” she told WQAM a short time later.
Similar scenes have been repeated across the city since Christmas Day, and investigators called on the community to tell detectives what they know to help stop the violence.
“This is the fourth shooting that police have been called to since Dec. 25. And tonight a young boy was killed. The shooting needs to stop. A child is dead.” Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokeswoman for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, told reporters on the night of the shooting.
Rasheed’s cousin, 25-year-old Christopher Jordan, was one of the other victims, shot dead on Christmas Day, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators urged people to come forward.
“What we need for the community is not to be in fear, but to come forward with information,” Coleman-Wright said. “When you listen to the relatives and you listen to the cries and the grieving that they’re going through, someone out there knows something and they have information and we need them to come forward.”
Someone did, apparently.
Police announced on Friday that Arvis Brown, 19, had been arrested in connection with Rasheed’s killing and the shooting of his relatives, according to the Miami Herald.
Brown and another man, Gregory Sims, 22, are accused in the four days of violence.
Meanwhile, friends of Rasheed’s family have started a GoFundMe to help pay for his funeral expenses. “We need help raising money for our friend in need,” the GoFundMe says. “He lost his 8 year old son Rasheed Jr. in the crossfire of a senseless shooting.”
Rasheed’s shooting was reminiscent of the August killing of an 8-year-old girl in nearby Miami.
Jada Page was standing in front of a house with her father when two men pulled up in black four-door sedan and started shooting at her dad, WPLG reported.
The man was hit several times in the torso, but survived. The girl was shot once in the head and died.
Family members told the news station that father and daughter were about to go the movies when the gunfire erupted.