Charges dropped against suspect in El Mula banquet hall shooting

Suspect confessed after asking for lawyer, state attorney’s office says

A man accused of opening fire during the El Mula Banquet Hall mass shooting will not be formally charged, the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office confirmed Wednesday.

MIAMI – A man accused of opening fire during the El Mula Banquet Hall mass shooting will not be formally charged, the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office confirmed Wednesday.

Warneric Buckner’s confession on Oct. 6 was obtained after he had already asked for an attorney, prosecutors said in an interoffice memo obtained by Local 10 News.

Buckner, 20, was arrested in early October, months after the May 30 shooting in Northwest Miami-Dade County where three people were killed and 20 others were injured.

Police believe Buckner was one of the three masked gunmen who opened fire on a crowd outside the banquet hall on Memorial Day weekend. He was facing three counts of first-degree murder, as well as more than 20 counts of attempted first-degree murder with a deadly weapon.

Warneric Buckner’s confession in the case of the El Mula Banquet Hall shooting from May came after he had already asked for an attorney, prosecutors said Wednesday in an interoffice memo obtained by Local 10 News.

“These are serious charges, and I believe the state may be seeking the death penalty on this,” Miami-Dade Judge Mindy S. Glazer said at Buckner’s first court appearance after the October arrest.

However, the state attorney’s office released a “no action memorandum” Wednesday saying in part:

“On October 6, 2021, the Defendant gave a statement to homicide investigators in this case implicating himself and other gunmen in the May 30, 2021, mass-shooting at the El Mula Banquet Hall located at 7630 NW 186 Street, in Miami-Dade County Florida. Upon further review of the recorded statement, after the Defendant initially invoked his right to counsel, and despite the invocation, homicide investigators with the Miami-Dade Police Department continued to conduct an interrogation.

“... Without the statement, the State of Florida concludes that there is insufficient evidence, at this point in time, to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. When it is deemed that a case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt with admissible evidence, the State of Florida has an ethical obligation not to file charges that it cannot prove in good faith. For the foregoing reasons, no further action will be taken in court at this time. The investigation remains open and the State will consider pursuing charges at a later time as additional evidence is uncovered.”

Buckner’s arrest warrant stated that he agreed to speak with detectives and confessed to meeting with other people involved in the shooting before carrying out the crime.

But attorneys say his confession came after he asked for a lawyer and that a lawyer wasn’t present at the time of the confession, making it inadmissible in court.

Buckner was released from jail Wednesday evening, but prosecutors say “the investigation remains open and the State will consider pursuing charges at a later time as additional evidence is uncovered.”

Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez wrote on social media that he was disappointed to learn that the confession was inadmissible and that his department “will continue investigating to ensure that justice is served on all that are responsible for this heinous crime.”

The three victims killed in the shooting were Desmond Owens, Clayton Dillard Jr. and Shaniqua Peterson.

Dillard’s father told Local 10 News that families of the victims were notified of the development with Buckner on Tuesday night and he is upset about it.

See the full SAO memo below:


About the Authors:

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.