Two young kids were shot with AK-47s in Miami’s Liberty City yesterday. Their ages? 9 … and 4 … The shooting took place in broad daylight, as the kids played basketball in a park near their home. The ironies in this one just don’t quit:
About two dozen community leaders had gathered to discuss anti-violence measures Thursday when, suddenly, the Miami police major for the city’s Northside District bolted from the meeting.
Moments later, the group found out why: Two innocent young boys had been injured in a drive-by shooting — probably involving high-powered assault weapons — as they played basketball near their homes in Liberty City. The boys were shot as their mothers looked on.
Both children were being treated Thursday night at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. Neither suffered life-threatening injuries, police and their mothers said.
The attack took place at 1231 NW 58th Ter., less than four blocks from Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park, named after the 9-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet almost four years ago as she played in her front yard.
“They shot my baby, they shot my baby!” cried Tracey Powell-Gutta, who identified her son as 4-year-old Nathaniel Martin Jr. She said the assault was retaliation aimed at a local drug dealer.
Activist Georgia J. Ayers came to the crime scene straight from the meeting of the anti-crime group, called “Parents, Police and Preachers.”
“This is what we were discussing,” she said, “and it’s still going on.”
The shooting happened about 4 p.m. A white or silver Dodge Intrepid with three or four men inside drove down Northwest 58th Terrace, slowed in front of the three-story, peach-color building and opened fire, police said.
Powell-Gutta said a bullet grazed but did not enter her son’s chest. He also was hurt by fragments under his right arm, she said.
The older boy, identified by his mother as 9-year-old Zaiqun Highland, was hit in the elbow.
People in the area said they believed the gunman was aiming for someone named “Reggie” or “Fellucci” and that the shooting might have been retaliation for “some drug thing.” But at least people seem to be talking to the police. As sorry as this story is, there was one uplifting element: a helpful bystander:
Zaiqun, the older boy, was taken to the hospital by Miami Fire-Rescue. “My son is fine,” said his mother, who declined to give her name.
Nathaniel was driven to the hospital in the SUV of bystander Robert McCullough. McCullough said he walked out of a nearby grocery store to find people yelling and screaming after the shooting.
“There was a woman holding a child and begging for people to call an ambulance,” he said of Powell-Gutta and her son Nathaniel. “I told her, `Get in my car, don’t wait for an ambulance, he’ll die.’ ”
The woman jumped into his SUV and held the boy against her chest as McCullough raced to the hospital.
“I drove like what you see in the movies,” he said.
He said the mother — whose name he never learned — was hysterical the whole time, and “the little boy kept saying, ‘I love you mommy, I love you mommy.’ ”
Police asked anyone with information to call Miami police at 305-603-6350 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.