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Gun violence has Miami-Dade under national microscope

Operation Summer Heat has already led to arrests, but there’s ‘a lot of work to be done’

A spike of shootings in South Florida is making national headlines, and local leaders say the community must band together and share information.
A spike of shootings in South Florida is making national headlines, and local leaders say the community must band together and share information.

DORAL, Fla. – The sudden surge in gun violence across Miami-Dade has sparked national interest, with the county’s mayor appearing on CNN early Monday morning.

“Now we are banded together. We have our ‘Operation Summer Heat,’” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in the appearance.

Operation Summer Heat is the name of the 12-week countywide police initiative of stepped-up patrols and multi-agency intelligence gathering that was introduced last week.

Miami-Dade police say it has already resulted in 179 arrests and the recovery of 51 firearms.

The sudden surge in gun violence across Miami-Dade County has sparked national interest.
The sudden surge in gun violence across Miami-Dade County has sparked national interest.

But just a few days into the initiative came another mass shooting, the second in a week, when three people were killed and five others injured early Sunday outside a Kendall hookah lounge after a graduation party.

“We had one in the north end last weekend, here we are in the south end of the county,” Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said Sunday. “It shows there is a lot of work to be done.”

A week earlier, 23 people were shot — three fatally — outside a Northwest Miami-Dade banquet hall.

So far, no arrests have been made in connection to the most recent string of high-profile cases. Between four such shooting incidents, seven people have died and almost 30 people have been hurt.

A map shows the locations of four high-profile Miami-Dade County shootings in recent days. (WPLG)

“Sometimes people are afraid to speak out and fear retaliation because some of these are retaliatory,” Levine Cava said.

On Monday afternoon, Ramirez said the latest shooting was “devastating.”

“We really got to band together and we can’t stop and we can’t let these setbacks break our spirit as a community,” he said. “We need input from the community, we need eyes and ears out there. Anything that you see that is suspicious, any flyers that come out that are promoting these parties that may create a criminal environment, we need to know about it.”

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade commissioners are set to vote on a multi-million-dollar “Peace & Prosperity” gun violence prevention plan, which aims to tackle the root causes of gun violence with funding coming from the recent Miami Heat arena naming rights deal.

If approved, one of the first programs to be funded offers paid internships and summer jobs to at-risk youth.

“We got to get together as a community and make this stop,” Ramirez said. “We cannot continue with this series of gun violence every weekend. ... This is the new pandemic.”

READ MORE: A closer look at Miami-Dade’s multimillion-dollar plan to address gun violence


About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."