7 months after 22-year-old killed in random shooting on I-95, family wants justice

NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Behind the face mask is the pain of a grieving mother, crying over her daughter’s grave.

It’s the reality today for Sheila Nunez, seven months after Melissa Gonzalez was killed by a stray bullet while driving.

It was a Friday night, Jan. 3, when the 22-year-old, who had just graduated from Florida International University, was shot while driving southbound on I-95, near the 79th Street exit.

Gonzalez’s passenger, identified by Florida Highway Patrol as 26-year-old Julian Cortina, heard the gunfire, looked over and saw that Gonzalez had been hurt. He managed to pull the car off to the side of the highway.

Investigators believe the shooting was random. There have been no arrests in this case.

Her loved ones are not giving up hope that the case will be solved. It is the reason they publicly showed up together with balloons and other symbols of love at her grave on Sunday.

“We’re basically asking for Justice for Meli. We’re basically asking for more support from the community to find out exactly what happened,” Darwin Leon, a friend of the family, said.

“It’s very important for me and for our family. For her — Melissa Gonzalez,” her mother said.

That call for justice is now printed on T-shirts worn by family and friends.

Detectives believe that the stray bullet was fired from a nearby surface road near I-95 and 79th Street in the West Little River neighborhood of Northwest Miami-Dade County.

Police have circulated this surveillance image of a dark colored car that they hope might lead them to whoever shot Melissa Gonzalez. (WPLG)

Police have circulated a surveillance camera image of a dark colored, four-door car with dark rims, as a possible vehicle of interest. It could be the car that could lead to the person who cut short the life of a beloved young woman.

“She was just beginning. The family and I, we are very, very sad and there are no answers. We don’t know what happened,” Leon said.

Police and the woman’s family are hoping that perhaps someone driving in another vehicle or standing on a nearby road saw or heard something that could offer critical information to get some answers in this case.

If you have any information that you believe could help police, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-8477.

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.