Family of mass shooting victim asks public to speak up to solve killings

Desmond Owens was one of two 26-year-old men fatally hit by Sunday’s gunfire

“Our family is experiencing a deep sense of loss right now,” a cousin said of Desmond Owens, one of two men killed early Sunday outside a banquet hall.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The raw emotion of a grieving mother is indescribable.

“I just feel that no parent should have to bury their child,” said Melanie Burton, whose son Desmond Owens was one of two 26-year-old men killed in the mass shooting early Sunday outside a Northwest Miami-Dade banquet hall.

Owens’ family is choosing to remember the happier times, through photos and videos of the doting dad of two.

“Our family is experiencing a deep sense of loss right now,” said cousin Ashley Gantt. “He took care of his mom, his siblings. He was a sweetheart.

Owens was among the 23 people ambushed by a trio of gunmen early Sunday morning outside the El Mula Banquet Hall where a pop-up party was being held.

Clayton Dillard III was also fatally shot.

The 21 other victims were rushed to various hospitals, and some are still fighting for their lives, including 32-year old Shaniqua Peterson, who still has a bullet lodged in her head.

Despite so many witnesses, no arrests have been made — an unsettling thought to Owens’ loved ones.

“If you don’t snitch, there would be no conviction, OK?” said Schkena Burton, Ownes’ aunt. “We need a conviction for those who are responsible. Innocent people out enjoying themselves, caught up in senseless violence. It needs to stop.”

Detectives are examining every second of surveillance video from a new angle that shows the gunmen firing more than 100 rounds. There’s also a dark-colored vehicle in the background, and cops are trying to figure out if more shooters were present, or perhaps if they were firing in self-defense before driving off.

That vehicle is different from the white SUV that was seen casing the parking lot prior to the shooting — an SUV that three armed suspects later emerged from to unleash their terror on the crowd.

“We are asking our community to come stand up for us, help us get justice for our cousin being senselessly killed,” Gantt said.

They are planning Owens’ funeral for next week.

Miami-Dade detectives are asking anyone with information about the shooting to 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.