HIALEAH, Fla. – The red Nissan slammed into a barrier wall along the busy Palmetto Expressway just seconds after it was struck by bullets on Wednesday afternoon.
The driver’s mother told Local 10 News that her son had just picked up his friend from jail and they were driving northbound on the Palmetto Expressway when someone in a dark-colored SUV started shooting into the car.
He was airlifted to the Jackson Memorial Hospital. The passenger did not survive and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The woman told Local 10 News that her son was driving her car and that she was on the phone with him when he began telling her that a gray Jeep Grand Cherokee was following them and tried to cut them off.
“My son was OK. He was talking. He was just really upset because his friend got shot,” she said.
On Wednesday night, yellow evidence markers stretched across the highway by the dozens in the northbound lanes of the expressway.
“Detectives are looking at every motive or every bit of information based on the evidence they have here at the scene,” said Miami-Dade Police detective Angel Rodriguez.
Palmetto Expressway northbound remained closed as the murder investigation continued. Investigators could be seen around the car where the Nissan’s windshield had multiple bullet holes.
“As you can see, the car has a significant amount of bullet holes,” Rodriguez said.
Police identified the passenger as 20-year-old Timothy Starks and the driver as Dante’ Collins Banks, also 20.
A booking report from Miami-Dade County Corrections stated that Starks had been released at 2:10 p.m. after posting bond.
According to Florida Highway Patrol, the shooting happened on northbound Palmetto Expressway (SR 826) in the area of Okeechobee Road. The sedan was shot at while traveling north around 3 p.m., FHP said.
Passersby called 911.
On the Palmetto Expressway (SR 826) northbound traffic was backed up due to the investigation for hours during afternoon rush hour. The road was closed between NW 74th Street to NW 103rd Street. The northbound lanes finally reopened 8 hours after the shooting.
Drivers endured hours of a traffic nightmare because of the complete closure of the northbound lanes, which was partly for safety and also for space to allow investigators the chance to scour the bullet-riddled Nissan and to figure out just how large the crime scene may be.
“Detectives have the undaunting task right now of backtracking from where the vehicle stopped just to determine how far back the casings are on the 826,” Rodriguez said.
The gunman, who was last seen speeding away in a dark-colored vehicle, has been the subject of a massive manhunt. The search led officers to a vehicle southbound on I-95 in Miami shortly after the shooting that resembled the getaway car.
Sky 10 was over the scene as police approached the vehicle with guns drawn at the exit to NW 69th Street, but they later determined that the SUV had no connection to the shooting.