MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Amid concerns about the growing rate of gun violence in southern Miami-Dade, many people are asking what’s being done to address the problem.
“We would think it’s related to robberies, but we’ve seen a decrease in robbery crimes, so from my standpoint, it’s a lot of disagreements people are having and they’re targeting each other,” Miami-Dade police Maj. Shawn Browne said.
Unlike typical gang violence, these angry interactions are starting on social media and pouring out into the streets of South Florida.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has something to do with that because people are forced to stay at home, they’re not going to school or work -- the loss of jobs -- so that probably is one of the driving factors,” Browne added.
Police report a 32 percent increase in the number of murders in Miami-Dade County since the same time last year.
Most of those have occurred with weapons that can easily catch innocent victims in the crossfire.
“We’ve seen an increase in the amount of gunfire, as well,” Maj. Jorge Aguiar said, while showing Local 10 News some firearms that have been confiscated. “Some of those are high-powered rifles, which they indiscriminately shoot, and they have longer distance where they can discharge, so that bullet is blind when it leaves that barrel.”
“Not only are we dealing with gun violence, we’re dealing with the pandemic as well, so our officers are working around the clock not only trying to stop gun violence, but trying to keep people safe in this pandemic,” Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said.
A new gun violence initiative is among the efforts focused on creating federal, state and local partnerships to battle back against the barrage of bullets penetrating the social fabric of South Florida.
“We totally want to prevent this from occurring and somehow bring things back to normal,” Aguiar said.
“This is a time when we need to work together to keep our youth from getting killed,” Ramirez added. “That’s our ultimate responsibility.”
Those who report unlawful gun possession in Miami-Dade County can receive $1,000 through a gun bounty program. The tipsters can remain anonymous by calling Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.