South Beach residents don’t want young father’s heroic sacrifice on Ocean Drive to be forgotten

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Irene Bigger didn’t get to meet Dustin Wakefield, a 21-year-old father who was on vacation in South Beach when a man — who appeared to be under a magic mushroom-induced psychosis — murdered him on Aug. 24 on Ocean Drive.

It was still daylight and Wakefield was having dinner in the outdoor area of La Cerveceria de Barrio, a Mexican restaurant, at 1412 Ocean Dr. Wakefield, of Castle Rock, Colorado, didn’t know his killer, Tamarius Davis, 22, of Norcross, Georgia, police said.

Bigger, who lives nearby, said the murder left her grieving for Wakefield and his family. Davis told police officers it was a random act of violence in broad daylight and that meant his victim could have been anyone.

“He was a stranger, but then he was not a stranger the day that he was killed in our own backyard, so we take it very personally,” said Bigger, a co-founder of SoBe Safe, a nonprofit organization founded last year to advocate for a safer neighborhood.

On Tuesday evening, Bigger and other residents held a vigil as a tribute to Wakefield, who witnesses said died a hero while saving the lives of his family and others at the restaurant. Bigger doesn’t want anyone to forget the sacrifice Wakefield had to make.

Dustin Wakefield, 21, was fatally shot while defending his son from a gunman on Aug. 24 in South Beach. (Courtesy of the Wakefield family)

“He’s a proud dad. When his son grows up and hears about this, he’s going to forever love his dad — not matter if he’s there or not,” said Marquita Bradford, who witnessed the murder.

Another witness at the 1390 Ocean Drive Condo recorded a video showing Davis shot at a pedestrian outside of the Winter Haven Hotel, at 1400 Ocean Dr., and missed. Davis continued walking eastbound on 14th Street and turned left on Ocean Drive.

Davis walked near people who were dining al fresco at Il Bolognese at 1400 Ocean Dr. A waiter working at Havana 1957, a family-friendly Cuban restaurant, said he saw the gunman just outside of the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, at 1410 Ocean Dr.

Davis continued walking northbound while wielding a gun on Ocean Drive. At about 6:20 p.m., Davis walked into the outdoor dining area, at 1412 Ocean Dr., where Wakefield and his family were celebrating together.

Roberto Leon and Odalys Olguien identified Davis as the gunman who pointed a gun at Wakefield’s table. Karina Olguin, who had wed Wakefield on March 6, 2019, was celebrating her August birthday. She and their one-year-old son Eli witnessed the shooting.

“I remember Dustin saying, ‘Please, I have a son. He’s just a boy.’ And that’s when it all happened,” the grieving widow said adding, “I was like, ‘Dustin the baby!’ I yelled, Dustin got up, got Eli, and took him to my grandma. He (Davis) was right behind me I remember him leaving. It was fast.”

Dustin Wakefield, 21, holds his one-year-old son and his wife for a family picture. (Wakefield family)

Lorenzo Trench, a ranger at Lummus Park, heard a gunshot and saw Davis chasing Wakefield and heard more gunshots, according to the arrest affidavit. A witness’ video shows Davis dancing after the shooting. Karina Olguin said Wakefield was a courageous hero and an “amazing, loving father” who protected his family until the end.

Officers responded about 6:23 p.m., and saw Wakefield had been shot in the head, police said. A witness’s video shows an officer performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

When two officers arrived at an alleyway nearby, Davis was trying to open a locked door, according to the arrest form. The officers ordered him to drop the firearm. A witness’s video shows Davis complied and confessed.

“The defendant stated he was high on mushrooms which made him feel empowered. The defendant continued by saying he randomly chose two men to shoot at,” an officer wrote in the arrest report.

A doctor at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center pronounced Wakefield dead. A day after the murder, Wakefield’s mother, Lora Wakefield, said through tears that he was a devout Christian and a musician.

“We saw miracles. We saw miracles together. His music, his music is amazing.” the grieving mother.

His father was too distraught to talk to reporters. His stepmother, Angie Wakefield, set up Dustin’s Family page on GoFundMe and said she doesn’t know how the family is going to get through this loss.

“I will honor him and help his son know how great he is every day I’m alive,” she said a few days after the murder.

Dustin Wakefield holds his baby boy, Eli, for a family photo in Colorado. (Courtesy photo)

Dustin Wakefield and Karina Olguin worked at a restaurant when they met and fell in love. He was working at Design Mechanical, Inc. when he was killed. His uncle Michael Wakefield set up the Fundraiser for Dustin’s Family to benefit little Eli.

“Dustin loved his family and loved and cared for all he met. He will be missed in this world. Dustin saved his son and his family,” the grieving uncle said.

Davis’ father, Tommy Davis, said his son had been on vacation and didn’t have a criminal record. Davis is facing two felony charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer addressed Davis in court.

“Sir, you are being held with no bond,” Glazer said. “You shot and killed somebody in cold blood.”

At the memorial, on a rainy afternoon, a week after the murder, Miami Beach residents put up a poster of Wakefield’s picture next to a palm tree. Attendees brought yellow and white flowers. A singer stood under an umbrella and performed “My Heart Will Go On.”

They shared a message from his mother: “In memory of my son, I ask: Do something good like he would. Smile at a stranger, give a hug to somebody. See the person in front of you. Really see them. Don’t let this world desensitize you to what love is.”

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About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.